Tycoon Donald Trump defends his comments about women during White House race
Billionaire US presidential candidate Donald Trump has refused to back down over his controversial comments about women.
The other 16 Republican candidates fighting for attention in a primary field eclipsed by Mr Trump hoped he would be finished off by latest firestorm to consume his campaign, sparked by his provocative remarks.
But he dismissed the row, and claimed he cherishes women and would be their strongest advocate if elected.
"I'm leading by double digits, so maybe I shouldn't change," he boasted.
The latest controversy started on Thursday night when Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly recounted Mr Trump's history of incendiary comments toward women.
Angry over what he considered unfair treatment at the debate, Mr Trump told CNN on Friday night that Ms Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever".
The remark cost him a prime-time speaking slot at the RedState Gathering, the Atlanta conference where several other presidential candidates spoke to about 1,000 conservative activists.
But Mr Trump refused to back down, insisting on Sunday that only "a deviant" would interpret his comment beyond a harmless barb.
"I apologise when I'm wrong, but I haven't been wrong. I said nothing wrong," said Mr Trump.
The controversy is just the latest from Mr Trump's unconventional campaign, which has excited many anti-establishment conservatives while confounding party leaders already facing the prospects of a bruising fight among 17 candidates.
Some have responded by sharpening their critiques, questioning Mr Trump's electability, his conservative credentials, policy ideas and personality.
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, the only woman running for the Republican nomination, appeared most adept at seizing on the comments as she strives to break into the top 10.
"I think women of all kinds are really sort of horrified by this," she said, arguing that there was a difference between being politically incorrect and insulting.
Jeb Bush, the presidential favourite for many senior party donors, said at RedState that Mr Trump would hurt the Republicans' chances with women, who already tilt toward Democrats in presidential elections.
"Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53% of our voters?" the former Florida governor asked.