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Trump maintains female support after 'menstruation' comment

The real estate mogul has plenty of female fans despite his comments about TV host Megyn Kelly.

FILE: Republican presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media at a press conference during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Picture: Getty Images/AFP

NEW YORK - It's easy to find female fans of Donald Trump in this cluster of former factory towns in the hills west of New York City even after his comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly that have been widely interpreted as referring to her menstrual cycle.

The loud-mouthed real estate mogul, who holds a wide lead over rivals in the Republican race for the White House, has been unapologetic, despite pundits saying his clash with Kelly could hurt him with women voters and halt his meteoric rise in the polls.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests Trump, who has dominated coverage of the 2016 election with a series of flame-throwing comments about illegal Mexican immigrants, the war record of Senator John McCain and Kelly, may in fact still be leading among women Republican supporters.

There's evidence of that support in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, even though the county leans Democrat.

A third of women randomly interviewed by Reuters on the street self-identified as Trump supporters and said they still supported him.

Kelly Ray, 34, a former teacher and conservative Christian who left work to home-school her two children, said Trump was an attractive candidate because he was an outsider who had not held elected office.

She said she was not put off by Trump's performance in last week's Republican presidential debate.

Trump bristled when Kelly, one of the moderators, said he had called women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals" in the past.

Trump accused her of political correctness and of not treating him with respect.

In a CNN interview on Friday he said of Kelly: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever."

That comment was seen as implying she had been menstruating during the debate, although Trump has repeatedly denied this and said he had been referring to her nose.

" A LITTLE ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES "

"Shame on the public for presuming something, for putting words in his mouth," said Evonne Groody, 28, a nurse in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Groody said Trump was her first choice for president even though she's a registered Democrat.

Trump's outspokenness is his most important quality, according to the women who like him. Women interviewed in Lehigh County and respondents in a Reuters/Ipsos poll praised his apparent honesty.

"He's a little rough around the edges because he goes against the grain," said Angie Brodie, 38, another nurse in Allentown.

Trump's comment about Kelly cost him at least one supporter: Renee Daily, 56, a grandmother in Trexlertown who said his candidacy had inspired her to register to vote for the first time in her life. On

Monday she said she had given up on him.

"He just started to talk too much," she said.

BIG MOUTH

Paradoxically, media attention to Trump's comments about Kelly may be helping him shore up support.

Of the 17 Republican presidential hopefuls, Trump is arguably the most spontaneous speaker. "What I say is what I say," he told Kelly in response to her question on women during the debate.

Spontaneity is an advantage, said Davida Charney, a rhetoric and writing professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

"Something that is unplanned and critical is somehow truer, more honest," she said.