WASHINGTON • Mr Donald Trump has run into trouble again after mocking the appearance of a rival candidate - and the only woman in the race - for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
In remarks published in an article on the website of Rolling Stone magazine on Wednesday, he said of Ms Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive: "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?"
The magazine reported that the billionaire real-estate developer made the remarks while watching Ms Fiorina on television.
"Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?" Mr Trump was quoted as saying. "I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"
Ms Fiorina, in an interview on Fox News Channel, said she viewed Mr Trump's remarks as "very serious".
"Maybe, just maybe, I'm getting under his skin a little bit because I am climbing in the polls," she said.
Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?... Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?
MR DONALD TRUMP, quoted by Rolling Stone magazine, criticising rival Carly Fiorina while watching her on television
It was not the first time Mr Trump has taunted Ms Fiorina. A month ago, he tweeted: "I just realised that if you listen to Carly Fiorina for more than 10 minutes straight, you develop a massive headache. She has zero chance!"
He also attacked her record in the private sector and her failed California Senate bid, saying: "She's a very nice woman, she got fired, she did a terrible job at Hewlett-Packard, she lost in a landslide - other than that, she's a very nice woman."
Mr Trump's remarks were his latest barbs aimed at a woman during the campaign. Last month, he criticised Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly during and after a Republican debate.
During the debate, Ms Kelly had asked him about comments he has made in the past referring to women as "fat pigs," "dogs," "slobs" and "disgusting animals".
In response, he accused her of political correctness and of not treating him with respect. Asked about Ms Kelly in a CNN interview last month, Mr Trump said: "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 he has repeatedly denied this and said he had been referring to her nose.
Mr Trump is the front runner among 17 Republican contenders.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that he was the favourite of 24 per cent of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. That was the highest percentage and biggest lead recorded by any Republican candidate this year in the poll.
Another poll by respected research firm Public Policy Polling released on Wednesday also showed that Mr Trump is dominating in the critical early-voting state of South Carolina. He got the support of 37 per cent of registered Republican voters there, followed by surging retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who got 21 per cent.
The next closest contenders trailed significantly, with the remaining 15 Republican candidates all in the single digits.
To win the presidency, Mr Trump needs strong backing from women, who make up 53 per cent of the US electorate. At the moment, he has a wider lead among men than women. He has touted his "great relationships" with women, saying he had hired thousands of women including top-level employees, adding: "I cherish women."