Trump escalates war of words with Fiorina and Carson

·Senior Writer

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump says he wasn’t talking about Carly Fiorina’s looks when he asked a Rolling Stone reporter to imagine “that face” as “the face of our next president.”

“I’m talking about persona, not about looks,” Trump said in an appearance on “Fox & Friends” Thursday.

But Trump also hinted that he was aware of how the remark would be perceived.

“The fact is that I probably did say something about Carly, in a jocular manner,” he said.

According to the upcoming Rolling Stone cover story, published online Wednesday, the real estate mogul made the remarks when an image of his Republican rival appeared on a nearby television screen. “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Trump is quoted saying. “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

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Trump gestures to the crowd at a rally against the Iran nuclear deal in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Fiorina responded to Trump’s remarks late Wednesday.

“Maybe I’m getting under his skin a little bit because I am climbing in the polls,” Fiorina told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, adding that Trump’s comments “speak for themselves.”

In a separate interview on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday, Trump insisted he was referring to Fiorina’s “persona” of a “failed” executive.

“Her persona is not going to be — she’s not going to be president,” Trump told Chris Cuomo. “She was a disastrous CEO. She had a company before that called Lucent, which in my opinion and in my memory was even a worse catastrophe than Hewlett-Packard. She then gets fired from Hewlett-Packard. She runs for the Senate against somebody that could have been beaten easily, she loses in a landslide, and now she’s running for president.”

Trump also hit back to his closest rival in the latest GOP polls, Ben Carson, after the retired neurosurgeon appeared to question the billionaire’s faith.

“He’s questioning my faith,” Trump said. “I happen to be a great believer in God, a great believer in the Bible. … Who is he to question my faith when I am — he doesn’t even know me. I’ve met him a few times. But I don’t know Ben Carson. He was a doctor, perhaps an OK doctor.”

Trump, who has criticized former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as a “low-energy” candidate, added that the “low-key” Carson “makes Bush look like the Energizer Bunny.”

Before a rally in Anaheim, Calif., on Wednesday, Carson was asked what the biggest difference is between himself and the former “Celebrity Apprentice” host.

“I’ve realized where my success has come from, and I don’t in any way deny my faith in God,” Carson told reporters. “And I think that is the big difference.”

He added: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life, and that’s a very big part of who I am. I don’t get that impression, maybe I’m wrong but I don’t get that.”

Related: Donald Trump, Ben Carson surging in GOP race: poll

But Carson isn’t the only GOP candidate to question Trump’s faith. In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took perhaps the biggest swipe at Trump of any 2016 candidate so far.

“Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He’s a narcissist. He’s an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself. I want to say what everybody is thinking about Donald Trump but is afraid to say,” Jindal said. “Like all narcissists, Donald Trump is insecure and weak. … We know that only a very weak and small person needs to constantly tell us how strong and powerful they are.”

Jindal added: “Donald Trump has never read the Bible. The reason we know he has not read the Bible is that he’s not in the Bible.”