In a sit-down interview with the Fox News Channel primetime star, Trump said “I could have done without” the fracas over his re-tweet comparing photos of his wife and Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi. This, in response to Kelly’s question as to whether there had been any mistakes in his campaign.
“I have millions of followers. The thing that gets me into trouble is the re-tweets,” Trump said during Megyn Kelly Presents.
While telling Kelly he never was bullied as a child, he said, “When I’m wounded I go after people hard and I try to un-wound myself,” he said.
Deadline Sets Contenders Television Documentary + Unscripted Event For May 1; 18 Outlets, 37 Shows On One Day
Calling her a “bimbo” in tweets, for instance. When Kelly noted he’d done that, he responded ,”Did I say that?” She told him he had. Many times. “Ooh, excuse me,” he said, then, added, helpfully, “over your life you’ve been called a lot worse,” and that it’s “a modern day form of fighting back.”
Kelly wondered how parents can teach their children not to taunt and name call when the GOP frontrunner and possible next POTUS is doing that. “I’ve been saying throughout this campaign that I’m a counter-puncher. I’m responding. I then respond times maybe 10…In just about all cases I’ve been responding to what they’ve done to me.”
On that subject, Trump has famously had it in for Kelly since that first GOP debate of this election cycle, when she asked him, right out of the gate, “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘’slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals.’ Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president? And how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”
Apparently Kelly struck a nerve. Because, the next day he turned her into a household name, and led to one of the most discussed candidate comments of the election cycle to date, when he complained to CNN’s Don Lemon, of Kelly’s question-asking: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her…. wherever.”
“I didn’t think it was a question. It was more of a statement,” Trump said in tonight’s interview, all these months later. “That was the first question I’ve ever been asked during a debate, and I’ve never debated before…And I’m saying to myself, ‘Man what a question’ …I don’t really blame you, because you were doing your thing. But from my standpoint I don’t have to like it.”
“In a certain way what you did might have been a favor,” he told Kelly. “I felt so good about having gotten through” that first debate. “I said, ‘If I can get through this debate with those questions, you can get through anything’.”
Trump’s feud with Kelly went on for months. She asked if it was “real or strategy. “I’m a real person,” he responded.
In an interview on Fox News Channel to plug tonight’s special, Kelly insisted that first-debate question “obviously…was relevant” because he’s going to have to answer Hillary Clinton’s campaign charge that he’s part of “the war on women.”
But, she quickly added, “In Trump’s defense, I understand where he was coming from.”
“It’s his first debate. Ever. He’s a businessman, he’s a TV host. In his mind, he’s up there giving [Fox News Channel] ratings. And, he is surrounded by all these guys, who have done debates before. And next thing he knows [Bret] Baier hits him with a question about ‘Raise your hand if you’re not going to support the nominee’, I hit him with The Woman Question, and [Chris] Wallace hits him with the bankruptcy questions. And he’s like, ‘What the heck is going on here! This is not fun at all.’ So I understand why he got mad at the moment.”
And yet, Trump, in tonight’s interview, boasted “that first debate was pretty amazing” in re the ratings, adding confidently, “I felt very comfortable with the subject, and I felt very comfortable with the people I was competing against.”
Trump has “absolutely” no regrets about the past nine months. “I could have done certain things differently. I could have used different language in a couple of instances. But overall, I have to be happy with the outcome,” he said.
“If I were soft, if I were ‘presidential’…If I had not fought back the way I fought back, I don’t think I would have been successful.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.