It's been more than nine months since Donald Trump declared war on Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
Now Kelly's much-ballyhooed and long-awaited one-on-one interview with Trump will air on Fox at 8 pm Tuesday.
The tension has been built high: Since the first Fox News GOP debate, for which Kelly was a moderator, Trump has tweeted that Kelly is a liar, dopey, and average in looks, and implied she is a bimbo — though he wouldn't say it outright because that wouldn't be politically correct.
I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2016
He boycotted the second Fox News–sponsored GOP debate because of her, attended the third, and has since continually attempted to tarnish her name both online and on the stump.
But Kelly found her in. "In April there was a lull in the tweetstorm, and I seized on the opportunity," Kelly told Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos.
The 140-character platform Twitter has been Trump's sparring ground of choice for this mostly one-sided feud with Kelly. Trump took to Twitter to attack her after the first Republican debate, when she zeroed in on him over past sexist comments. His digital war on Kelly has become the trademark of his bombastic, "no time for political correctness," attention-grabbing presidential campaign.
It all started last August in Cleveland, Ohio, at the first GOP presidential debate, moderated by Fox News’s Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace. Kelly lobbed Trump what was described as either a "tough" or "gotcha" question:
Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
And so began Trump not calling Kelly a bimbo.
Wow, @megynkelly really bombed tonight. People are going wild on twitter! Funny to watch.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2015
Trump made headlines after the debate, telling CNN’s Don Lemon that Kelly was purposefully trying to trip him up, saying, "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."
Kelly, who said she would not respond to Trump's "blood" comment, left for vacation shortly after the first debate. Trump said she left because of him, but Fox confirmed that her brief hiatus was scheduled. With her return, Trump took to Twitter once again, disparaging her abilities as the anchor of the Fox News show The Kelly File.
I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
.@megynkelly must have had a terrible vacation, she is really off her game. Was afraid to confront Dr. Cornel West. No clue on immigration!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
The term "bimbo" enters the race
Kelly's return was also the introduction of the word "bimbo" in the Kelly-Trump war, when the presidential candidate retweeted a follower saying, "The bimbo is back in town," among other comments.
"@PatrickStinard: @megynkelly Kelly File was much better without Megyn Kelly. Her replacement while she was out on vacation was much better!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
In October, Trump broke his Kelly hate-tweet streak and thanked her for defending his wife, Melania Trump, after the New York Times's profile on the designer and former model said, "Were it not for her husband’s presidential aspirations, [Melania] might resemble that of any number of trophy spouses in New York, Palm Beach and Paris."
"If somebody else did this about a Democrat, the New York Times would be crying sexism, but they can do it; it’s fair game because it’s Donald Trump’s wife and he’s running as a Republican," Kelly said on her show. "It’s really disrespectful."
Thank you @megynkelly for the nice things you said about Melania. You will like her, great heart and smart - always wanting to help people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2015
In an interview with Charlie Rose on October 7, Kelly spoke of her feud with Trump, saying she wished to move forward from the past incidents; she added that she could foresee Trump as a guest on her show.
This detente lasted for just two weeks, however, before Trump was back at the helm, insulting Kelly and her "two really dumb puppets" for their analysis of past debates.
Megyn Kelly has two really dumb puppets, Chris Stirewalt & Marc Threaten (a Bushy) who do exactly what she says. All polls say I won debates— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2015
Every poll, Time, Drudge, Slate and others, said I won both debates - but heard Megyn Kelly had her two puppets say bad stuff. I don't watch— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2015
And again in November, criticizing Kelly’s analysis of poll numbers, to which Kelly actually responded.
Isn't it terrible that @megynkelly used a poll not used before (I.B.D.) when I was down, but refuses to use it now when I am up?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2015
And again in December after the CNN-moderated GOP debate.
And again in January, after Vanity Fair published a front-page interview with Kelly in which she said she could not be "wooed" by Trump:
"Trump probably didn’t imagine he’d be next. After all, in his mind, what beautiful woman didn’t want to go to bed with him, right? When I remark to Kelly and her husband that Trump sounded like a jilted suitor after she asked her now famous sexism question, they share a knowing look, and Kelly proceeds cautiously. In the past, she says, "he would send me press clippings about me that he would just sign ‘Donald Trump.’ And he called from time to time to compliment a segment. I didn’t know why he was doing that. And then when he announced that he was running for president, it became more clear. But I can’t be wooed. I was never going to love him, and I was never going to hate him."
.@megynkelly recently said that she can’t be wooed by Trump. She is so average in every way, who the hell wants to woo her!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2016
Trump did not participate in the last Republican debate before Iowa's caucuses because of Kelly's "bias," tweeting that he would instead host an alternate event in Iowa to fundraise for veterans. He appeared in the third GOP Fox News debate with Kelly as the moderator in early March, in a civil encounter.
But just weeks later he tweeted she was "crazy," "average," and "highly overrated," calling for a boycott of her show:
If crazy @megynkelly didn't cover me so much on her terrible show, her ratings would totally tank. She is so average in so many ways!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2016
Everybody should boycott the @megynkelly show. Never worth watching. Always a hit on Trump! She is sick, & the most overrated person on tv.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2016
Highly overrated & crazy @megynkelly is always complaining about Trump and yet she devotes her shows to me. Focus on others Megyn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2016
The latest showdown
The Kelly-Trump interview will undoubtedly touch on this mostly one-sided feud. It comes at a time when Trump is under attack for his relationships with women — the New York Times just published a scathing profile interviewing more than 50 women in his life. It's a controversy largely magnified by Kelly.
"I think that Republican women have warmed a little to Trump," Kelly said on Good Morning America Monday. "The question remains to be seen whether they will vote or if it will impact their vote to have a candidate who speaks in the way that Trump does and has for most of his lifetime about women."
In pre-released clips of the special interview obtained by the Associated Press, Kelly asked Trump if he had been bullied in his childhood.
"No, I wasn't," Trump said. "But I have seen bullying, and bullying doesn't have to just be as a child. I mean, I know people are bullied when they're 55 years old."
"It can happen when you're 45," Kelly said, referring to herself.
"It happens, right? But you gotta get over it, fight back, do whatever you have to do," Trump said. "I've been saying during this whole campaign that I'm a counter-puncher; you understand that. I'm responding."