- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2015

Businessman Donald Trump offered few regrets Friday about his GOP debate performance the prior night, saying he handled the spotlight with poise and got the crowd into it despite a “setup” against him on stage.

The flamboyant front-runner took on critics within the party and the media during his evening in Cleveland with nine other top-tiered candidates, refusing to rule out a third-party run if he fails to get the nomination and defending his disparaging remarks about women.

A poll from Gravis marketing said he ranked second on the question of “who won the debate?” but also placed second on “who lost the debate?”

Mr. Trump had few doubts about who came out on top.

“I don’t think I could have done any better. … I mean, I answered the questions well,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “There was no question that I would like to say, ‘Oh, gee, I’d like to have a do-over,’ and in life, I’d like to have many do-overs.”

Mr. Trump said the opening question from Fox News moderators — whether candidates would rule out a third-party run if they were not selected by GOP voters — was a setup directed at him.

SEE ALSO: Republican debate scorecard

“It’s not something I want to do at all. But a lot of people are asking me to do it,” he said of an independent bid that could, in theory, split the party and give Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton a boost. “They’re begging me to do it. They think I would win as an independent.”

Mr. Trump said his quip about actress and comedian Rosie O’Donnell — that remarks about women being “fat pigs” or “slobs” were only directed at her — got one of the big responses “in terms of sound and in terms of combustion in the room.”

At the same time, he refused to believe that he demeaned other women.

“In fact, I’m going to have somebody call up and find out where these words came from because I don’t recognize those words. Not that I’m an angel, by the way. But I don’t recognize those words,” he told MSNBC.

Ms. O’Donnell tweeted her response to Mr. Trump’s comments shortly after he said them Thursday night: “try explaining that 2 ur kids.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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