Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was dumped from a prime speaking role to an important gathering of conservative activists on Friday for his criticism of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after a combustible debate performance.
Trump was scheduled to deliver the keynote address on Saturday night at a conference in Atlanta organized by RedState, an influential conservative group.
Trump's campaign fired back at RedState chief Erick Erickson twice after the GOP front-runner was dumped from RedState's schedule. In the second statement, issued Saturday morning, Trump's team said:
"Not only is Erick a total loser, he has a history of supporting establishment losers in failed campaigns so it is an honor to be uninvited from his event. Mr. Trump is an outsider and does not fit his agenda.
"Many of the 900 people that wanted to hear Mr. Trump speak tonight have been calling and emailing — they are very angry at Erickson and the others that are trying to be so politically correct. To them Mr. Trump says, We will catch you at another time soon.'"
Erickson said he disinvited Trump from the event because of what he described as "demeaning" remarks about Kelly, who was one of three moderators during the first major Republican debate on Thursday night in Cleveland.
"While I have tried to give him great latitude, his remark about Megyn Kelly was a bridge too far," Erickson said.
Erickson said he had invited Kelly, one of Fox's highest profile anchors, to attend his conference in Trump's place.
In an initial response to Erickson, Trump's team labeled the move as "just another example of weakness through being politically correct. For all of the people who were looking forward to Mr. Trump coming, we will miss you. Blame Erick Erickson, your weak and pathetic leader."
During the debate, Kelly asked Trump to respond to derogatory statements he had made in the past about women, calling them "fat pigs" for example. Trump tried to wave off the question and dismissed Kelly during a raucous debate performance.
"And honestly Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry," Trump said. "I've been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn't do that."
Erickson said in a Facebook statement that in a CNN interview Trump said of Kelly: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever."
"His comment was inappropriate," said Erickson.
"It is unfortunate to have to disinvite him. But I just don't want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal. It just was wrong," he said.
"He is not a professional politician and is known for being a blunt talker. But there are even lines blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross. Decency is one of those lines."
A variety of Republican presidential candidates have been speaking at the Red State gathering in Atlanta and Trump was scheduled for a prominent appearance.
Shortly before Erickson's statement, Trump's campaign had just put out a media advisory with the schedule for Trump's appearance.
The New York billionaire has been riding high in the polls in recent weeks as Republican search for their nominee to face the Democrats' choice in the November 2016 election.
Carly Fiorina, the business executive who is the only woman running for the Republican nomination and who spoke to Red State on Friday, applauded Trump's dumping.
"I stand with @megynkelly," she tweeted.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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