(FILES) Real estate tycoon Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential debate in this August 6, 2015, file photo at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Donald Trump was scratched from a Republican Party event Saturday after suggesting that a presidential debate moderator was tough on him because she was menstruating. The off-handed comment unleashed a new storm of criticism against Trump as he seeks the party's nomination for next year's election and leads in the polls.   AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN/FILES
(FILES) Real estate tycoon Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential debate in this August 6, 2015, file photo at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Donald Trump was scratched from a Republican Party event Saturday after suggesting that a presidential debate moderator was tough on him because she was menstruating. The off-handed comment unleashed a new storm of criticism against Trump as he seeks the party’s nomination for next year’s election and leads in the polls. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN/FILES

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump yesterday professed his love for women and said he would be their best advocate if elected president, dismissing the firestorm of his own making that has consumed the Republican presidential campaign. Even as he asserted that one of his main challengers is the one in trouble with female voters, the only woman in the Republican contest said she believes women are “horrified” by Trump’s comments and that the billionaire businessman may be unprepared for the pressure that comes with being president.

“I apologize when I’m wrong, but I haven’t been wrong. I said nothing wrong,” said Trump, who called in to four Sunday news shows, skipping only Fox News, the network with which he is feuding. “I’m leading by double digits, so maybe I shouldn’t change,” he boasted to NBC’s “Meet the Press”.

Trump’s unconventional, insurgent campaign has excited many anti-establishment conservatives while confounding party leaders already facing the prospects of a bruising fight among 17 candidates. The latest controversy started Thursday night when Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly recounted Trump’s history of incendiary comments toward women. Angry over what he considered unfair treatment at the debate, Trump told CNN on Friday night that Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

That remark cost Trump a prime-time speaking slot at the RedState Gathering, the Atlanta conference where several other presidential candidates spoke to about 1,000 conservative activists. RedState host Erick Erickson said in a statement that Trump had violated basic standards of decency, even if his bluntness “resonates with a lot of people.” The Trump campaign retorted by calling Erickson a “total loser” who backs other “establishment losers”.

Yesterday, Trump stuck to his assertion that only “a deviant” would interpret his comment beyond a harmless barb. Jeb Bush, the presidential favorite for many top Republican donors, said at RedState that Trump’s bombast would hurt the party’s chances with women, who already tilt toward Democrats in presidential elections. “Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53 percent of our voters?” the former Florida governor asked.

Planned Parenthood Row
Trump contended on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it’s Bush who has the problem with women, thanks to a comment the former Florida governor made last week when discussing cutting off federal money for Planned Parenthood. “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” Bush said. He later issued a statement saying he had misspoken and was referring only to the “hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding” for Planned Parenthood.

The question of Planned Parenthood’s funding leapt into the 2016 presidential contest amid an ongoing row into the release of graphic videos, secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists, that show officials of the group describing how they sometimes provide fetal tissue to medical researchers. “I think he’s got a huge problem,” Trump said of Bush. He argued Bush’s comment was worse than a video recording of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney in which Romney said that 47 percent of voters were dependent on the government and would vote for President Barack Obama, no matter what, alienating voters.

Trump also professed his love for women, pointing to the many he’s hired over the years to work for him. “I cherish women. I want to help women. I’m going to do things for women that no other candidate will be able to do,” he said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ promising to do more for women’s healthcare than anyone. Other candidates criticized Trump; some sought to avoid giving him more of their time.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the only woman running for the Republican nomination, was among the first to speak out. “I think women of all kinds are really sort of horrified by this,” she told CBS, suggesting that Trump’s reaction was a sign that he is too thin-skinned. “If you think a question is tough, imagine the pressure of actually being in the Oval Office,” she said. She also told CNN that as she moved up in the male-dominated business world, she too met men who implied that she was unfit for decision-making because of her cycle. “The point is women understood that comment and yes it is offensive,” she said.

Trump scoffed. “She’s having a lot of fun,” while running away from her troubled HP tenure and losing Senate race in California, he said. “I wish her well. She’s a very nice person.” Florida Sen Marco Rubio, meanwhile, said he will let Trump answer for his own words. “If I comment on everything he says, my whole campaign will be consumed by it,” Rubio told NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “He says something every day,” Rubio said. – AP