Megyn Kelly Wrings Some Introspection, but No Apology, From Donald Trump

Source: Megyn Kelly Presents on FOX Broadcasting

He didn't exactly beg for her forgiveness.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly sat down in a wildly-anticipated interview that aired Tuesday, getting personal nine months after the stunning showdown in Cleveland that set them at odds.

The most striking moment of the interview — the culmination of a hot and cold war that began during the very first GOP debate of the 2016 cycle — came when Kelly confronted Trump over having called her a "bimbo" on Twitter.

Read more: What's Really Driving Donald Trump's Feud With Megyn Kelly and Fox News

"Uh, well, that was a retweet... Did I say that?" the typically bombastic Trump asked almost sheepishly. 

"Many times," Kelly replied.

"Ooh, okay. Excuse me," Trump said — before hedging, "not the most horrible thing ... you've been called a lot worse — is that right, wouldn't you say?"

Trump defended his performance in the debate that set off his anti-Kelly tirades: "If I were soft ... If I were, you know, 'presidential,' ... In a way, it's a bad word, because there's nothing wrong with being 'presidential,' but if I would not have fought back the way I fought back, I don't think I would have been successful."

All about the timing: Trump's cordial chat with Kelly comes at a pivotal point in the race for president.

Having demolished his last remaining GOP rivals earlier this month, the real-estate billionaire is poised to carry the Republican standard into what delegate math suggests will be a general-election battle against Democrat Hillary Clinton

The former secretary of state and her allies are already pummeling Trump for sliming women, previewing a concerted effort to hurt the GOP candidate with a demographic that, polls say, has already got issues with him.

Kelly pressed the issue with Trump, who's been accused by Clinton of playing the "woman card," asking him if he regretted other derogatory statements about women including former primary foe Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi.

Again, Trump struck a softer tone than in the past, but wouldn't commit to a simple, full-on apology.

"Yeah, I guess so, but you have to go forward," he said when Kelly asked if he regretted assailing the women for their looks. "You can correct a mistake ... but to look back and say, 'Gee whiz, I wish I didn't do this or that,' I don't think that's good."

Backstory: The Trump-Kelly rumble began when confronted Trump, who stood center stage at the Cleveland debate on Aug. 6, 2015, about his history of derogatory remarks about women — including having called them "fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals."

Trump tried to make a joke out it, quipping that he'd only lobbed such labels at nemesis Rosie O'Donnell.

Later, he turned his anger on Kelly for, he said, having mistreated him during the debate:  "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her — wherever," Trump said.

Trump initially protested that people had taken his comment all wrong:

The apologies didn't last long: Trump soon launched into an all-out attack on Kelly, lambasting her as a "bimbo" and a "lightweight" reporter to the joy of his followers — and the disgust of his critics.

Ahead of Tuesday's program, however, Trump — who livetweeted the show for his nearly 8.3 million followers — posted a much more cheerful message about Kelly:

He walked the line: During the talk, Kelly tried a multitude of approaches to getting Trump to cop to having unfairly bad-mouthed women, exhibited bullying behavior and generally having not done unto other as he'd have other do unto him.

Trump praised Kelly for having come to his Manhattan headquarters with little fanfare to seek him out for the sitdown, and even went so far as to admit he could have used "different language" in some of his more heated moments.

"Are you gonna stop that, as president?" Kelly asked.

"Well, I am gonna stop it about you now," he said.

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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