Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was dumped from a prime speaking role to an important gathering of conservative activists for his criticism of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after a combustible debate performance.
Trump was scheduled to deliver the keynote address Saturday night at a conference in Atlanta organized by Red State, an influential conservative group.
Red State chief Erick Erickson said he had disinvited Trump from the event because of what he described as "demeaning" remarks about Kelly who was one of three moderators during the first major Republican debate on Thursday night in Cleveland.
'Bridge too far'
"While I have tried to give him great latitude, his remark about Megyn Kelly was a bridge too far," Erickson said, adding he had invited Kelly, one of Fox's highest profile anchors, to attend his conference in Trump's place.
Trump was unbowed by the dumping.
"This is just another example of weakness through being politically correct," his campaign said in a statement.
"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," the statement said.
During the debate, Kelly asked Trump to respond to derogatory statements he had made in the past about women, calling them "fat pigs" for example. Trump tried to wave off the question and dismissed Kelly during a raucous debate performance.
"And honestly Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry," Trump said. "I've been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn't do that."
Erickson said in a Facebook statement that in a CNN interview Trump said of Kelly: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever."
'Comment was inappropriate'
"His comment was inappropriate," Erickson said.
"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," he said.
"He is not a professional politician and is known for being a blunt talker. But there are even lines blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross. Decency is one of those lines," Erickson added.
A variety of Republican presidential candidates have been speaking at the Red State gathering in Atlanta and Trump was scheduled for a prominent appearance.
Shortly before Erickson's statement, Trump's campaign had just put out a media advisory with the schedule for Trump's appearance.
The New York billionaire has been riding high in the polls in recent weeks as Republican search for their nominee to face the Democrats' choice in the November 2016 election.
'Rumbled last night'
Carly Fiorina, the former tech industry executive, came out of Thursday afternoon's debate, watched by 6 million, with renewed interest in her campaign.
"Well, I don't know. I think we kind of rumbled last night. What do you think?" Fiorina said Friday to cheers from more than 1,000 people at the Red State Gathering.
Fiorina, who is the only woman running for the Republican nomination, applauded Trump's dumping.
"I stand with @megynkelly," she tweeted.