Donald Trump has been uninvited to a Republican party event over a suggestion that a debate moderator was tough on him because she was menstruating.
The off-handed comment unleashed a new storm of criticism of Trump on Saturday and put him in damage control mode as he sought to nuance his remark.
The billionaire came under fire from his own party after a particularly crude accusation that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, one of the moderators at Thursday's Republican presidential debate, had singled him out with rough treatment at that forum.
Trump had already called out the station's moderators for asking "unfair" questions. But he turned up the tone on Friday when he told CNN that Kelly "is just somebody I didn't have a lot of respect for."
"You can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever," he continued.
By Saturday, Trump's invitation to a grassroots Republican event in Atlanta had been rescinded.
"As much as I do personally like Donald Trump, his comment about Megyn Kelly on CNN is a bridge too far for me," said conservative pundit Erick Erickson, editor of RedState blog and organiser of the event. Trump was to have spoken at it.
"His comment was inappropriate. It is unfortunate to have to disinvite him," he continued.
Carly Fiorina, the only Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, "Mr. Trump: There. Is. No. Excuse."
She later added "I stand with @megynkelly."
Trump meanwhile backtracked from the comment, stating that he was not referring to any one particular body part.
"So many 'politically correct' fools in our country. We have to all get back to work and stop wasting time and energy on nonsense!" he tweeted.
A staggering 24 million viewers tuned in to Fox News to watch the debate, and Trump was clearly a main factor.