WASHINGTON — GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said Friday he can't recall using words such as "dog," ''fat" and "disgusting" to insult women he believes have slighted him, but such language litters his Twitter feed and other public comments he's made for years.
The issue took center stage at the first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign for president, when Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly asked Trump about his use of such language and whether it reflected the "temperament of a man we should elect as president."
Trump largely dismissed Kelly's question at the debate, but on Friday he went directly after her.
Before dawn, he had retweeted a post calling Kelly a "bimbo." The post was later deleted, but on Friday evening Trump called Kelly a "lightweight."
"She's not very tough and not very sharp," Trump said during a phone interview on CNN. "I don't respect her as a journalist."
Referring to Kelly's questions during the debate, Trump said, "There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."
Citing that remark, conservative commentator Erick Erickson said he was withdrawing his invitation for Trump to appear at his RedState Gathering in Atlanta on Saturday. "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 on the RedState website Friday night. "It just was wrong."
Trump's campaign responded: "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."
In a series of interviews earlier Friday on network television, the billionaire businessman questioned whether he had actually used the words as Kelly had alleged during the debate.
"You know, some of the statements she made about the women, I don't recognize those words whatsoever," Trump said on ABC's "Good Morning America." ''We're going to take a very serious look at it."
Trump has a long history of lobbing insults at those he feels have treated him unfairly, and advises those who buy his books to do the same.
"For many years I've said that if someone screws you, screw them back," he wrote in "Trump: How to Get Rich." ''When somebody hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can."
When doing so, he has repeatedly targeted women and their physical appearance.
"Rosie O'Donnell's disgusting, I mean both inside and out. You take a look at her, she's a slob. She talks like a truck driver," he said in 2006 during an interview with "Entertainment Tonight." ''I'd look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I'd say, 'Rosie, you're fired'" from her television show, "The View."
During the debate, Trump acknowledged making such comments — but only about O'Donnell. When Kelly said Trump's comments had gone beyond O'Donnell and asked about his use of such insults on Twitter, Trump replied that he didn't "have time for total political correctness."
A review of Trump's writings, televised interviews and Twitter feed show he's long used harsh language to describe women — and occasionally men.
In tweets sent last year, Trump called Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington "a dog who wrongfully comments on me" and said she is "ugly both inside and out!"
In 2012, Trump wrote on Twitter of singer Bette Midler: "But whenever she sees me, she kisses my ass. She's disgusting."
Trump has also said the same of men. "Little @MacMiller, I'm now going to teach you a big boy lesson about lawsuits and finance. You ungrateful dog!" he tweeted in 2013 at a rapper who wrote a song titled "Donald Trump."
And to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank in 2011: "Barney Frank looked disgusting — nipples protruding — in his blue shirt before Congress. Very very disrespectful."
During the debate, Kelly also referenced a boardroom scene from Trump's NBC's realty show, "Celebrity Apprentice," in which Trump was told by one contestant that a female teammate had gotten down on her knees to beg.
"That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees," Trump said in response.
In the book, Trump declared that, "All the women on 'The Apprentice' flirted with me — consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected."
And he had this to say about women's victories on the show: "It's certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on 'The Apprentice' were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal."
On some occasions Trump appears to have recognized he's gone too far. In April, he retweeted, then deleted, a tweet that read, "If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?"
This story has been corrected to show that Trump made his comments to ABC. Associated Press Writer David Bauder contributed to this report. Follow Jill Colvin on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/colvinj and http://twitter.com/APLaurieKellman