Donald Trump’s bluntness, which has won him legions of conservative fans, boomeranged against him Friday when comments about Fox anchor Megyn Kelly prompted RedState founder Erick Erickson to disinvite him from the RedState GOP gathering in Atlanta.
Trump has been attacking Kelly relentlessly since she sharply questioned him during Thursday night’s Fox News GOP candidate debate, saying she “behaved very badly” and her questions were “vicious,” and retweeting a comment that called her a “bimbo.”
But Trump’s hammering of Kelly became too much for Erickson, a leading conservative voice, when the candidate told CNN, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
Word began to circulate early Saturday afternoon that Trump’s chief political advisor, veteran operative Roger Stone, had left the campaign. Trump’s campaign claimed he was fired, but Stone says he quit.
An email purportedly by Stone to Trump, obtained by Politico, suggested Trump’s battle with Fox News was part of what prompted him to get out:
“Unfortunately, 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,” Stone wrote. “With this current direction of the candidacy, I no longer can remain involved in your campaign.”
Erickson, who is a Fox News contributor, posted the news late Friday on his website that Trump was disinvited from the conference. He wrote:
“As much as I do personally like Donald Trump, his comment about Megyn Kelly on CNN is a bridge too far for me. In a CNN interview, Mr. Trump said of Megyn Kelly, ‘You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.’ It was not the ‘blood coming out of her eyes’ part that was the problem.”
“I think there is no way to otherwise interpret Mr. Trump’s comment. In an attempted clarification, Mr. Trump’s team tells me he meant ‘whatever,’ not ‘wherever’ . . . His comment was inappropriate. 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.”
Erickson added that he had invited Megyn Kelly to attend in Trump’s place Saturday night.
Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the GOP primary race, took to Twitter to condemn Trump’s remarks as well. “Mr. Trump. There. Is. No. Excuse,” she wrote. “I stand with @megynkelly.”
Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he was referring to Kelly’s nose: “Re Megyn Kelly quote: ‘you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever’ (NOSE). Just got on w/thought.”
Trump struck back at Erickson Saturday morning, his campaign releasing a statement accusing Erickson of being just the type of “establishment” conservative Trump is campaigning against.
“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,” the statement said. “Mr. Trump is an outsider and does not fit his agenda.”
In potentially going too far with his rhetoric, Trump may be folding what could have been a winning hand. Many conservatives were angered by the questions posed to the candidates by the Fox News anchors, perhaps assuming they would see mostly friendly fire from the network.
It remains to be seen, though, how Trump’s latest controversial comment will play with the conservative base and whether his penchant for bluntly free-associating is now turning against him.