Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has denounced her Republican rival and former supporter Donald Trump, saying he went "way overboard" in a crude verbal assault on journalist Megyn Kelly.
She also took issue with the rest of the broad Republican field of candidates seeking to succeed President Barack Obama, saying their stances on women's rights and healthcare could set back the cause for women's equality in America.
"I think the guy went way overboard — offensive, outrageous. Pick your adjective," she told reporters Monday on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.
Trump sparked a furor when he suggested that Kelly, a popular Fox News moderator, had "blood coming out of her wherever" when she took a forceful line of questioning to him during last week's Republican debate.
But "while what Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous, what the rest of the Republicans saying about women is also outrageous," she went on, seizing the opportunity to attack other Republicans, whom she has accused of waging a war on women.
"They brag about slashing women's healthcare funding. They say they would force women who have been raped to carry their rapist's child," she added.
"We don't hear any of them supporting raising the minimum wage, paid leave for new parents, equal pay for women, or anything else that will help to give women a chance to get ahead."
The remarks were the strongest yet by Clinton against the brash billionaire who said he contributed hefty sums to the Clinton Foundation, called Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, shortly before he launched his own presidential campaign, and who quipped that Hillary "didn't have a choice" but to come to his wedding.
Trump has faced a firestorm of criticism for his remarks, and for doubling down by refusing to apologize to Kelly, saying: "I couldn't care less about her."
He has lambasted rivals with brutal tweets, including Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive — and only Republican woman in the race — who many thought delivered the best debate performance of the 17 Republican candidates.
"I just realized that if you listen to Carly Fiorina for more than 10 minutes straight, you develop a massive headache. She has zero chance!" Trump tweeted.
Twitter has bitten back against Trump's sexist remarks with an unorthodox anti-Trump hashtag campaign.
"@realDonaldTrump thought you should know I'm on my period. Whoa, and still completely myself and functioning," wrote literary agent Mallory Brown, using the hashtag "#periodsarenotaninsult."