Rush Limbaugh on Friday criticized Fox News after a moderator for the first GOP presidential debate the previous night raised the topic of a "war on women."
 
"If I didn't know any better, I would have watched this thing last night thinking that there is a Republican 'war on women' based on the questions and the lack of a woman being on the stage," Limbaugh said on his radio show.
 
"I thought the 'war on women' was a Democrat creation by George Stephanopoulos," he added. "The last place I ever thought I would see it continued is Fox News."
 
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Megyn Kelly, one of three moderators, used the phrase during an intense exchange with GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE minutes into the debate, after asking him about previous comments disparaging women's appearances.
 
"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?" Kelly asked. 
 
"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?" Kelly added as Trump stared straight forward.
 
Trump snapped at Kelly, the only woman who spoke during the event, saying, "I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness."
 
Limbaugh told listeners Friday that "Trump was clearly caught entirely off guard by it" but acknowledged later that all Republican candidates "have to be ready" for tough questions. 
 
"I just think crying about the refs isn't going to get you anywhere," Limbaugh said, adding that he didn't think Trump was lamenting his treatment. 
 
Limbaugh did not single out questions from the debate, but he alluded to Kelly's question of Trump. 
 
Kelly also asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: "Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion?"
 
Trump, who has topped many recent national polls, has hit back hard on Fox News after receiving a series of pointed questions during the debate.
 
"I have never seen the kind of public backlash against Fox personalities that I have seen last night and today," Limbaugh said Friday, speculating Fox was urged to go after Trump during the first debate.
 
"We assumed that the orders went out to the candidates. But the candidates did not make one move toward taking Donald Trump out. The broadcast network did," Limbaugh said.