Donald Trump criticised by Republican rivals over Megyn Kelly comments
Billionaire Donald Trump came under fire from rival Republican presidential hopefuls over his treatment of a female TV debate moderator.
The organiser of a conservative political convention rescinded the businessman's speaking slot, angering some eager to hear from the tycoon who has taken an early lead in the Republican race.
The real estate mogul and reality television star, who remains a long-shot candidate for the White House, refused to apologise for his comments.
He had said t hat Megyn Kelly, who aggressively questioned him during Thursday's debate on Fox News, had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" when she asked him about his incendiary comments towards women.
The latest flare-up underscored the challenges Mr Trump poses for his rivals as they struggle with the sudden rise of his unconventional bid, with the first primary vote still 15 months away.
Mr Trump remains a towering presence in the 17-candidate field, and his supporters at the RedState convention said the latest controversy simply reaffirms why his uncompromising approach appeals to voters disgusted with conventional politicians, including those in the Republican party.
Jeb Bush said Mr Trump threatens the Republicans' prospects with female voters, who already favour Democrats in presidential elections.
The former Florida governor told the RedState Gathering in Atlanta: "Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53% of our voters?"
The event's organiser, radio host Erick Erickson, offered similar sentiments when he dropped Mr Trump after his comments on CNN.
"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," Mr Erickson said.
Mr Trump maintained "only a deviant" would interpret his comments that way. He called Mr Erickson "a total loser" with "a history of supporting establishment losers in failed campaigns".
Former tech executive Carly Fiorina, the only woman among the Republican contenders, tweeted: "Mr. Trump. There. Is. No. Excuse."
Some RedState attendees said they are not necessarily Trump supporters but want other candidates and party leaders to take heed of his rise.
Connie Thomas of Atlanta, executive of a health care consultancy, said Mr Trump went "too far" in the CNN interview but is serving a "good purpose" in the race: "He's forcing the rest of this field to speak more forcefully, more clearly against the establishment."
Meanwhile, the row has reached into Mr Trump's campaign operation, which announced that he had fired one of his senior advisers, Roger Stone.
However, Mr Stone maintained that he quit after seeing Mr Trump's CNN comments.
According to an email obtained by the Associated Press, Mr Stone wrote to Mr Trump, "The current controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights have reached such a high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message."
Mr Trump's campaign manager said he never received the email.