Donald Trump is not coming to Atlanta this weekend after all.
The organizer of the RedState Gathering has rescinded the Republican presidential candidate’s invitation to speak at a Saturday evening rally at the College Football Hall of Fame.
Erick Erickson said the billionaire’s comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly were “a bridge too far.” Trump told CNN on Friday that “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever” as she questioned him during Thursday’s Republican presidential debate. Here’s precisely what Trump said:
Erickson took issue with Trump’s comments — particularly the “wherever” part — in a post to his blog overnight. A taste:
“[W]hile Mr. Trump resonates with a lot of people with his bluntness, including me to a degree, there are just real lines of decency a person running for President should not cross.
“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 elaborated on Saturday morning, telling the event’s hundreds of attendees that he thought it was “weak and pathetic to take a tough question from a journalist and assume she’s on her period and that’s why she asked a tough question.”
“I have said some really unfortunate things in my life, and I’ve apologized for them. It is not political correctness, it’s common decency,” said Erickson, an occasional, paid analyst for Fox News. “If you don’t have a little voice in your head saying, ‘No you actually screwed up,’ it’s going to end badly for you.”
He added: “I don’t want Donald Trump in the room with my daughter tonight so that’s why he was disinvited.”
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Erickson said he called and emailed the Trump campaign late Friday night in search of clarification or an apology. Neither came.
“They were immediately hostile and refused to even admit he said it,” Erickson said. Trump on Saturday took to Twitter to defend himself and said the “wherever” part of his comments to CNN referred to Kelly’s “nose.”
Erickson isn’t buying it.
“Yeah, whatever,” he said. “Last night they weren’t even willing to do that. I’m sorry if it takes you that long to come up with that response, you’re not going to be elected president.”
As Erickson mentioned above, he is no stranger to provocative remarks. In 2013, he repeatedly referred to Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis as “Abortion Barbie.” That earned him the ire of another Fox News host: Greta Van Susteren, who called Erickson a “jerk” and a “repeat offender.”
But on Saturday, Erickson said what Trump said about Kelly was much worse than what he said about Davis.
“Oh yeah, I think it’s fundamentally worse,” he said. “Wendy Davis’ profile in Vogue was about her pink shoes and good looks. They were trying to use that until it became a negative connotation. All Megyn Kelly did was ask a tough question.”
A Trump campaign spokesperson quickly fired back at Erickson via email:
“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.”
As other GOP candidates seized on his CNN comments – businesswoman Carly Fiorina tweeted “Mr. Trump: There. Is. No. Excuse.” – Trump said this morning his quote was misinterpreted.
He later blamed political correctness – a common trope in his campaign – for Erickson’s decision. From a Trump campaign statement:
“Not only is 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. Mr. Trump is an outsider and does not fit his agenda. Many of the 900 people that wanted to hear Mr. Trump speak tonight have been calling and emailing — they are very angry at Erickson and the others that are trying to be so politically correct. To them Mr. Trump says, “We will catch you at another time soon.”
At the RedState event on Saturday morning, bleary-eyed attendees awoke to surprise at the news that Trump would no longer attend.
Among them was Michael Pemberton, a 66-year-old retiree from Kentucky who scrawled “I AM DONALD TRUMP” on the back of a question card and tacked it to his lapel when he learned the news.
Pemberton said there was nothing misogynistic about Trump’s comments, and blamed analysts for “over-interpreting” the remarks.
“He has a right to speak,” said Pemberton, who said he won’t return to RedState next year. “You have every right to be offended. I wish to listen to all these people, giving them a fair hearing and deciding on your own.”
Others were more supportive. Bill Hood of Canton called it “absolutely the right decision,” while Ginger Howard of Atlanta said Trump traipsed over a “line you don’t cross.”
“He has said some things we glossed over, but if you want to be the president of the United States there are some things you just don’t say,” said Howard.
Scott Johnson of Marietta, however, fears that Erickson’s decision may have a surprising consequence. “He should have to come and answer for what he said,” Johnson said of Trump. “I’m afraid it’s things like this that will make him make a third party run.”