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Politics & Government

Trump Gets Disinvited From RedState Gathering

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Donald Trump hits back when people challenge him. In the first Republican debate on Thursday, Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly pushed Trump on some of the disparaging comments he's made in the past about women. Now Trump has hurled his latest insults at Megyn Kelly. On CNN last night, he seemed to suggest her tough questioning style was related to her menstrual cycle. A warning to our listeners - we will be hearing those comments, and many of you may find them offensive. Trump has been disinvited from a major conservative gathering this weekend in Atlanta. NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving joins us now. Good morning, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning, Linda.

WERTHEIMER: Now, Ron, Trump has been on the warpath with Megyn Kelly since Thursday night. What did he do to raise the ante last night?

ELVING: Linda, before we even really try to answer the question, perhaps the best thing we can do - again, with a warning to some of our listeners that this language may be offensive - we should listen to the actual tape from CNN in his interview last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: She gets out, and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

ELVING: This, of course, took a lot of people by surprise. It was Friday night. There were not a great number of people listening. But there were enough people listening that the twitterverse came to life. And many of the people who have been following Donald Trump immediately unburdened themselves of their view of this kind of language. And Erick Erickson, who runs an organization called redstate.com - highly-influential website for conservatives - immediately felt that he could no longer have Donald Trump be the headliner at his event in Atlanta tonight at the College Football Hall of Fame, had an exchange of emails with the Trump campaign and disinvited Mr. Trump from that event tonight in Atlanta.

WERTHEIMER: So what was the Trump response?

ELVING: Here again, we are relying on Erick Erickson's recounting of this exchange of emails last night. But the initial response was that the candidate had said the word whatever, rather than whereever, in an apparent attempt to move the conversation along. This morning, just after 8 o'clock Eastern time, on Donald Trump's Twitter account, we got a slightly different account, where it was indicated that the quotation that ran on CNN was an accurate or authentic quotation - nothing wrong with the tape as we've heard it - but that the candidate, Donald Trump, was referring to blood that might have been coming from Megyn Kelly's nose.

WERTHEIMER: Well, this presumably - the fact that Republicans have been trying to court women for a long time, trying to get their favorability ratings up - presumably, that could have an effect on that effort.

ELVING: Yes. We've heard the phrase from Democrats, war on women, which has not had quite the resonance perhaps that Democrats have hoped it would have with all women voters, but trying to highlight a number of issues that Democratic candidates would prefer to talk about, such as the right to choose and also a number of workplace issues having to do with women, the status of women generally. But Republicans have fought back on many fronts, in particular, putting forward women candidates, having eloquent spokesmen of their own. And so we have heard, for example, from this - this morning from Carly Fiorina, the woman candidate for president, that she stands with Megyn Kelly. She tweeted that out at this morning. And the Republicans will have a response in that area. But of course, this does put the onus on many of the supporters of Donald Trump, at least in this particular context this morning.

WERTHEIMER: This is - it's an interesting thing. Do you think there's any chance, Ron, that this is an exit strategy?

ELVING: Do not believe that, cannot see that this would be something he would do deliberately, although some people have said that at some juncture or another, Donald Trump might seek an exit strategy because perhaps, he would decide to go back to the business world and saw all of this politics as hurting his brand. On the other hand, in recent weeks, he has seemed to really give his heart to this political campaign. And it seems difficult to think he would want to leave it in this manner.

WERTHEIMER: NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving, thank you very much.

ELVING: Thank you, Linda. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.