Top Republicans lambasted Donald Trump this weekend, in the harshest condemnation the party has levied on its unlikely front-runner to date.
At least seven GOP presidential contenders denounced the billionaire real estate mogul for his recent remarks about Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, declaring them inappropriate and “outside the bounds of reasonableness.” Their comments came in the wake of RedState founder Erick Erickson’s decision to dis-invite Trump from a scheduled appearance at a major conservative gathering.
The candidates were referring to Trump’s Friday appearance on CNN, during which he said Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, had blood coming out of her wherever” during the 2016 debate she moderated. Trump later said he meant to say nose or ears, but most took it as a reference to her menstrual cycle.
“Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53% of all voters?” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said at the RedState event. “What Donald Trump said is wrong.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told reporters Trump’s rhetoric is “just not appropriate in a presidential election,” echoing the sole female contender for the GOP nomination, Carly Fiorina, who tweeted that she “stand[s] with Megyn Kelly.”
In Iowa, Gov. Rick Perry said he couldn’t support Trump “until he is man enough to stand up and say, you know what, I overstepped the bounds of reasonableness,” later releasing a statement saying Trump “has proven once again that he doesn’t have the temperament to hold our nation’s highest office.”
Sen. Rand Paul took it a step farther, writing a lengthy editorial against “fake conservatives.”
“It is refreshing to hear someone speak truth to power, to transcend Washington-speak, and cut through the staidness of our politically correct world but not when it is all blather, non-sequitur, and self-aggrandizing bombast,” Paul wrote in the blistering op-ed.
“Look, I absolutely and strongly disagree,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said regarding Trump’s attacks in Iowa. “Where I’m from, we don’t treat people like that. So I think it’s cowardly to make those kinds of derogatory comments.”
Dr. Ben Carson was softer in his criticism, applauding Trump for bringing viewers and attention to the party. But he still told reporters the remarks were “certainly are not comments that I would have made,” adding that, “I don’t think that that’s useful to try to denigrate anyone, quite frankly.”
Trump, for his part, claims that other candidates had agreed with him that Fox News’ treatment had been unfair.
“Everyone felt that,” he said on msnbc’s ”Morning Joe.”
Meanwhile, a handful of candidates have shied from slamming Trump, a sign of his strong base of support or perhaps candidate’s desire to avoid the fray.
“If I comment on everything he says my whole campaign will be consumed by it,” Sen. Marco Rubio said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” after applauding Kelly’s tough questions. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also declined to weigh in, instead lauding the women in his life and arguing that Trump’s controversy was not “reflective” of the Republican brand.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz, two far-right candidates whose views align with Trump’s on many issues, declined to weigh in as well.