I cherish women and want to help them, says Trump after 'blood' row
Donald Trump has insisted that he "cherishes" women even as he refuses to apologise for appearing to suggest that a female journalist was menstruating during a TV debate.
Mr Trump said "only a deviant" would think he was implying that Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor, was hormonal when he said she had "blood coming out of her wherever" during Thursday's debate.
The Republican frontrunner insisted he was no sexist and had "always had a great relationship to the women", adding that that many of the executives in his multibillion-dollar property empire were female.
"I pay them a tremendous amount of money," Mr Trump told ABC, as he described himself as a champion of women in the workplace. He later added: "I cherish women. I want to help women."
During appearances on four different Sunday television shows, Mr Trump mixed his usual combination of insults, bluster and the occasional non sequitur.
"It's very hard for them to attack me on looks, because I'm so good-looking," he told NBC when asked about his tendency to make disparaging comments about women's appearances.
Mr Trump leads the Republican field in the polls but has found himself under fire from all sides since his outbursts against Ms Kelly, one of America's best-known TV anchors.
Jeb Bush, his closest rival in the polls, led the demands for Mr Trump to apologise and warned that his comments risked turning women voters away from the Republicans in next year's election.
"What Donald Trump said is wrong. That is not how we win elections," Mr Bush said.
Although Mr Trump is ahead in the polls, his campaign organisation is a chaotic affair and this weekend he parted ways with Roger Stone, a long-time political strategist.
The strategist said he was dismayed to watch the candidate become mired in a "food fight" with Fox News.
The real-estate mogul and television personality, who leads the polls in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, appeared on news shows to rebut the latest wave of outrage that was triggered by his off-the-cuff talk.
It has been a recurring scene as 17 Republican candidates vie for attention: Mr Trump makes an offensive comment, incurs a firestorm of reaction and critics sound the death knoll for his campaign. But so far, he has survived the backlash, including Republican anger over his belittling the war-hero status of US Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 nominee.
This time, Mr Trump was under fire for criticising Fox anchor Ms Kelly during and after a debate on Thursday.
Asked about Ms Kelly on a CNN interview, Mr Trump said: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever."
The fallout came quickly.
Mr Trump was barred from an important gathering of conservative activists on Saturday and drew another round of denunciations from fellow Republicans.
Republican candidates Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and George Pataki denounced the comments on Twitter or in statements. .
"They were completely inappropriate and offensive comments - period," Ms Fiorina said yesterday.
Ms Fiorina criticised Mr Trump for having got angry at Ms Kelly for asking difficult questions about comments he had made about women.
"You cannot have a president who is thin-skinned," the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said on CBS's 'Face the Nation'.