NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said Monday that she would not be responding directly to Donald Trump’s remarks about her, and said it is “time to move forward.”
During the Republican presidential debate in Cleveland last week, Kelly asked the Republican candidate about negative statements he’s made in the past about women. Trump was angered by the line of questioning and later told CNN that Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
On the air Monday night, Kelly said she would not be responding to the remark.
“Apparently, Mr. Trump thought the question was unfair, and felt I was attacking him. I felt he was asked a tough, but fair question. We agreed to disagree,” she said. “Mr. Trump did interviews over the weekend that attacked me personally. I’ve decided not to respond.”
Kelly called Trump “an interesting man who has captured the attention of the electorate.
“Trump, who is the frontrunner, will not apologize, and I certainly won’t apologize for doing good journalism,” she said. “So I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor, and Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far. This is a tough business, and it’s time now to move forward.”
Earlier Monday, Trump said he never intended to say anything inappropriate about Kelly and said the uproar over his criticism is “all fueled by the press.”
“This wasn’t meant to be much of an insult,” the billionaire real estate executive and Republican presidential candidate said in a telephone interview with NBC’s “Today” show. In his remarks, Trump again tried to clarify what he had said about Kelly, one of the moderators of last week’s presidential debate.
Trump said in the Monday interview that he didn’t get to complete his description about how he thought Kelly was being so angry toward him. But he did say, “She asked me a question that was nasty and I gave her a pretty tough answer.”
Addressing comments he made last Friday in an interview on CNN, Trump said, “I said she was so angry that blood was coming out of her eyes. I said blood was coming out of her… and I didn’t even finish it.”
Trump has been digging in his heels since last Thursday’s nationally broadcast Fox News debate as his rivals work to navigate a GOP presidential primary campaign that has been dominated by reaction to one of his bellicose statements after the next.
He said the other candidates benefited from his presence last Thursday.
“They had 24 million people watching,” Trump said. “If I wasn’t on the show, they would have had 2 million.”
Also Monday, Trump tweeted that Fox News chairman Roger Ailes reached out to Trump directly and assured him he’ll be “treated fairly” by the station.
“Roger Ailes just called. He is a great guy & assures me that `Trump’ will be treated fairly on (at)FoxNews. His word is always good!” wrote Trump, whose unorthodox campaign is dominating the race and summertime polls.
In a statement Monday evening, Ailes described the conversation as “blunt but cordial” and said the air had been cleared.
“Donald Trump and I spoke today. We discussed our concerns, and I again expressed my confidence in Megyn Kelly,” Ailes said, describing Kelly as “a brilliant journalist” whom he supports “100 percent.”
Ailes added that he assured Trump “that we will continue to cover this campaign with fairness & balance.”
Trump gave a series of phoned-in television interviews Sunday responding to the controversy involving Kelly.
Trump refused to apologize for the remark, and said that only a “deviant” would have thought he’d intended the word “wherever” to mean anything other than her ears or her nose.
“I apologize when I’m wrong. But I haven’t been wrong. I mean, I said nothing wrong,” Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He also declared that he would be a wonderful president for women, despite his history of sexist remarks.
“I’m very much into the whole thing of helping people and helping women,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Women’s health issues are such a big thing to me and so important.”
Trump’s remarks cost him at least one appearance before conservative activists. The organizers of the Saturday RedState Gathering, a high-profile meeting of conservative activists in Atlanta, decided Trump was not welcome.
“If you haven’t heard, I disinvited Donald Trump,” Erick Erickson, RedState.com editor, announced Saturday.
But some of Trump’s rivals have been struggling to respond without alienating voters.
“No, I just don’t want to be negative,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“I’ve made a decision here with Donald Trump, you know — if I comment on everything he says, I mean, my whole campaign will be consumed by it,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla).
“I don’t think that’s our role. I think our role is to run for president,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. “It’s the voter’s role to determine who they are going to connect to.”
But others addressed Trump head-on, knowing the insults that awaited.
“The kind of rhetoric we have heard of late from Mr. Trump just is not appropriate in a presidential election,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
“I’m not going to be quiet,” said former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. “I’m going to call out Mr. Trump or anybody else.”
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive officer Carly Fiorina said that Trump’s comments were “completely inappropriate and offensive.”
Trump’s campaign is currently in the middle of a shakeup after having parted ways with Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone.
Addressing what she referred to the “dustup” for the first time on her show Monday night, Kelly defended what she described as a “tough but fair question” during the debate.
“We agree to disagree,” she said at the opening of her show, adding that she had decided not to respond to personal attacks he’d lodged against her.
“Trump, who is the front-runner, will not apologize. And I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism,” she said. “So I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far.”
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