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GOP Candidates Jump on Bandwagon to Criticize Trump

Donald Trump continues to take fire from his competitors for the Republican nomination for president after controversial comments he made about Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly. Carly Fiorina and former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) chimed in late Friday evening, and several other candidates added their voices on Saturday.

Trump was unhappy with some of the questions Kelly asked him when she moderated Thursday evening’s GOP Debate and posted a series of aggressive tweets through the wee hours Friday morning. Then, as Breitbart News reported, in a Friday evening appearance on CNN Tonight, Trump said that Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Many interpreted this comment as inappropriate or even sexist.

Fiorina, the only female among the Republican presidential candidates, was the first to criticize Trump’s comments, tweeting that there was “no excuse” for what Trump said and that she stood with Kelly. Pataki tweeted that the “outrage” at his fellow New Yorker was “long overdue” and called it a “sad but predictable meltdown from Trump.”

Late Friday, RedState Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson disinvited Trump from the RedState Gathering, currently taking place in Atlanta, Georgia. Erickson praised Trump for being a “blunt talker” who “connects with so much of the anger of the Republican base” but said that his “inappropriate” comment had crossed “real lines of decency.”

“It is unfortunate to have to disinvite him,” said Erickson. “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.”

Trump fired back with a statement of his own, calling Erickson a “total loser,” and tweeting, “Political correctness is killing our country.” He also claimed that he meant blood coming out of Kelly’s nose.

Many were not buying Trump’s belated excuse, including Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld, as well as more of the Republican presidential candidates. Beginning on Saturday morning, several others joined the “Shame on Trump” bandwagon, similar to how they had denounced his previous controversial attacks on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his time as a POW during the Vietnam War.

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who has been one of the loudest critics of Trump, previously calling him a “cancer on conservatism” and saying he should withdraw from the race, released a statement that Trump’s attack on Kelly “proves once again that he does not have the temperament to be President.”

Donald Trump has proven once again that he doesn’t have the temperament to hold our nation’s highest office. Attacking veterans, Hispanics and women demonstrates a serious lack of character and basic decency, and his comments distract from the serious issues facing our country.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) weighed in as well with a pair of tweets stating he agreed with Fiorina that “there’s no excuse for Trump’s comments,” and while Kelly was a “tough interview,” being president was “tougher.” Republican candidates and the media “need to get back to how we’re going to turn the US around.”

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, speaking at the RedState Gathering Saturday afternoon, mentioned that several candidates had complained about “tough questions” at the debate, clearly referring to Trump, although he did not mention him by name. “You think that’s tough?” Bush asked. “How about dealing with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin?”

Later during a Q&A with Erickson, Bush was more pointed in his criticism. Responding to a quip by Erickson that he was in hot water with Trump, Bush replied, “You’re on the side of women. Come on, give me a break.”

“Do we want to win? Do we want to insult fifty-three percent of voters?” Bush continued, commending Erickson for making the “right” decision to disinvite Trump. “What Donald Trump said is wrong. That is not how we win elections. Worse yet, that is not how you bring people together to solve problems. That is not the way to do it. So your decision, I think, was the right one. Mr. Trump ought to apologize.”

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) did not mention Trump or Kelly by name but tweeted a statement that he was “grateful for the strong women in my family, in my office, in my cabinet and on my campaign.” Added Kasich: “You don’t tear people down just because they disagree with you or stand up to you or question you.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) posted a string of Tweets attacking Trump’s “unrelenting and offensive comments” about Kelly, which he said “are not worthy of the office he is seeking nor consistent w/the leadership we should expect from [the President of the United States].” He also applauded Erickson for disinviting Trump and warned the Republican Party that it was “better to risk losing without [Trump] than trying to win with him.”

National Review reported that Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) had emailed them a statement calling Trump a “coward.”

“Coarse language and degrading comments are for cowards,” said Jindal. “Where I come from we don’t treat people like that.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered perhaps the most measured of comments from the candidates so far. During a press gaggle at the RedState Gathering, Cruz praised Kelly as “a terrific journalist” who “did a very good job moderating the debate” but added that he was “not going to engage in the back and forth on personalities” and then changed the subject to topics that were “more important than the momentary bickering between different political candidates.”

So far, no polls have been released that include opinions after Thursday’s GOP Debate or Trump’s comments about Kelly. Some are predicting that these past few days will be the straw that finally breaks Trump’s lead in the polls, but previous controversies that were predicted to derail him have failed to do so.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

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