“As much as I do personally like Donald Trump, his comment about Megyn Kelly on CNN is a bridge too far for me,” Erick Erickson, organizer of this week’s RedState Gathering, wrote in a blog post on Friday night.
Erickson is referring to Trump’s reaction the day after Fox News’ first GOP presidential debate on Thursday, where Kelly had pressed Trump on his history of derogatory remarks about his female opponents – calling them “fat pigs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals.”
Trump told CNN the next day of Kelly’s questioning, in part, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her 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,” Erickson wrote. “It just was wrong.”
(Trump’s team told Erickson he meant to say “whatever,” not “wherever,” according to Erickson, who was unpersuaded. Trump Tweeted this same explanation on Saturday.)
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Trump had been slated to speak at a “RedState Tailgate” at the College Football Hall of Fame. Other RedState attendees include Govs. Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal, former Govs. Jeb Bush and Rick Perry, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and others.
Several GOP candidates have joined Erickson in condemning Trump’s remarks. Carly Fiorina, widely seen as one of the breakouts during the early debate Thursday, Tweeted Friday night:
On Saturday, Rick Santorum issued a statement that didn’t directly name Trump but made a reference “name-calling.”
“Enough is enough,” he said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “We should and must address serious issues facing our nation, but name-calling and crass personal attacks is beneath the office we are running for. It serves no positive purpose and all it does is write ads for Hillary Clinton. This needs to stop.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, a Trump spokesperson reiterated Trump’s explanation and said “only a deviant would think anything else.” They added that it was “an honor” to be disinivited from the event.
“Mr. Trump is an outsider and does not fit [Erickson’s] agenda.
“This is just another example of weakness through being politically correct. For all of the people who were looking forward to Mr. Trump coming, we will miss you. Blame Erick Erickson, your weak and pathetic leader. We ll now be doing another campaign stop at another location.”
In Trump’s place, Erickson said that he has invited Kelly.
• Reporting by SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL