Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and Fox News host Megyn Kelly put their previous tensions behind them Thursday night, engaging in lighthearted banter as she asked him her first question. The two asked each other how they were doing and Trump remarked that Kelly is “looking well” this evening.
The debate, hosted by Fox News in Detroit, marks the pair’s first meeting since the first GOP primary debate on August 6. Kelly had earned Trump’s enmity by asking him about sexist comments he had made on Twitter and on his Celebrity Apprentice reality show.
Trump responded that he had only ever disparaged one woman — Rosie O’Donnell — and took to other networks in the following days to accuse Kelly of bias and ineptitude. “I just don’t think it’s very professional,” Trump told MSNBC. “I mean I walked out of the room and people were saying, ‘That was really unfair.'” He also retweeted a supporter’s assessment that Kelly is a “bimbo.”
It was Trump’s appearance on CNN, however, that got the most notice, when he called Kelly a “lightweight.”
“I just don’t respect her as a journalist. I don’t think she’s very good. I think she’s highly overrated,” he told host Don Lemon. “She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever. She was, in my opinion, she was off-base.”
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Trump refused a request from Fox News CEO Roger Ailes to apologize to Kelly, but did later clarify that by “whatever” he had meant Kelly’s nose, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that “only a sick person would even think” he had been talking about menstruation.
After his attempts to get Kelly replaced for the January FOX News debate failed, Trump told supporters that she was “biased against” him and boycotted the evening entirely and hosted a competing fundraiser event for veterans.
Trump finished second in the Iowa caucuses days later — a defeat he attributed in part to his debate boycott. Kelly told Reuters on Thursday, “frankly, I have been ready for seven months to move beyond what happened after that August debate. I feel like it’s getting boring. Trump has bigger things to worry about, and so do I.”