Presidential candidate Donald Trump sought to redirect incoming fire at rival Republican Jeb Bush, saying that Bush has a "huge" problem with women and he is by far the better candidate with that demographic.
Trump excoriated Bush for saying "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues" at a speech in Tennessee last week. Bush later said he misspoke, and he was only questioning the federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood.
"This is worse than what Romney did when he blew 47 percent of the vote with his ridiculous statements," Trump said, referencing a secret recording from the 2012 election that captured GOP nominee Mitt Romney telling donors that the 47 percent of voters who don't pay income taxes considered themselves victims and felt entitled to government handouts.
"I'm exactly the opposite. I will be phenomenal to the women. I want to help women. What Jeb Bush said last week I thought was totally out of order. Then he came back a day later and he said 'oh I misspoke' -- well that's an awfully bad thing to misspeak about. I just don't think you misspeak that way. So I thought what he did was terrible," Trump said. He added that he believes Bush has a "huge problem" now.
"I couldn't believe he even said it. Now he corrected himself a day later, but I don't think that's acceptable," he said.
The candidate's own views on women have come under fire in the last several days after an interaction with Fox News host Megyn Kelly during the GOP debate. Trump has called Kelly a "bimbo" and a "lightweight" for asking about his disparaging comments toward women he believes he has slighted him. Trump also said, "There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever," which prompted conservative commentator Erick Erickson to withdraw his invitation to appear at his RedState Gathering in Atlanta on Saturday.
But Trump said he will win the women's vote.
"I'm very much into the whole thing of helping people and helping women, women's health issues are such a big thing to me," he said. As evidence, he said, "I was one of the first people in the construction industry in New York to put women in charge of projects," and said he has a lot of women working for him in high positions.
Trump has stood by his comments about Kelly, saying that only a "deviant" would think he was suggesting her questioning was motivated by hormones.
"I said blood was essentially blood was pouring from her eyes, blood was pouring, and then just I wanted to get on with the rest of the sentence...there was nothing obvious. Only a deviant would have thought otherwise," he said. He called Erickson a "proven loser" for his reaction.
Trump has been very critical of the questions he received during the debate and also said that a question about a potential third-party run from the other debate moderator, Fox News' Bret Baier, was "totally inappropriate" and "obviously directed at me."
Baier asked the candidates to raise their hands if they could not pledge they wouldn't an independent against the nominee.. Only Trump raised his hand, a move that he suggested after the debate gives him "leverage" against the party.
But he also said he believes he is going to win because he has a "much better energy" than the other candidates and "a much better ability to negotiate with the rest of the world."
Trump also boasted that it was his presence at the debate that drew 24 million viewers, the largest audience for any broadcast in Fox News' history. Asked by "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson whether that statistic meant the party had to be nice to him, Trump said, "I want to be treated fairly, that's true. Not nice, I want to be treated fairly."
He went on to list several states where he says the polls show him in first place.