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Trump Defends 'Look At That Face' Remark, Says He's Talking About Fiorina's 'Persona'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he was talking about GOP campaign rival Carly Fiorina's "persona, not her looks'' in published remarks seen by some as critical of her appearance.

Trump was asked about remarks attributed to him in a Rolling Stone cover story, which was published online Wednesday.

It describes an incident in which the billionaire real estate mogul and his staffers are watching TV news. When Fiorina appears on camera, Trump says, "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that. Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"

In a phone-in interview Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends,'' Trump acknowledged he "probably did say something like that.'' But he said, "I'm talking about persona, not about looks,'' saying he spoke "in a jocular manner.''

Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton later swiped at Trump on Thursday for insulting Fiorina and said she'd "love to debate him'' if he prevails in the GOP race.

"There is one particular candidate who just seems to delight in insulting women every chance he gets,'' Clinton told a cheering crowd of several hundred supporters. She named no names but was referring to Trump's remark that Fiorina's face would make her unelectable.

"I have to say, if he emerges I would love to debate him,'' Clinton said, a comment that presumed she would prevail, too, in a Democratic race that has become more of a struggle for her than anticipated.

Clinton is working to marshal female voters behind her presidential bid, hoping they will help stabilize her campaign in the face of declining poll numbers and continued questions over her email practices as secretary of state.

At her rally in Columbus, Clinton made the case that her economic proposals would be better for women, before turning to Trump's latest provocative comment.

In calling out Trump for a history of crude remarks about women -- he said Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever'' -- Clinton was in some sense coming to the defense of Fiorina, a former technology executive who has been one of her most cutting critics in the GOP field.

Fiorina herself brushed off Trump's remark in an interview with Kelly Wednesday night, saying, "The comments speak for themselves'' and "I'm not going to spend a single cycle wondering what Donald Trump means.''

"But maybe, just maybe,'' she said, "I'm getting under his skin a little bit, because I am climbing in the polls.''

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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