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"I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said," the 2016 hopeful said to sustained cheers and applause at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
 
"I think she's got a beautiful face and I think she's a beautiful women," Trump interjected seconds later, to a tepid response from the audience. 
 
Fiorina initially responded to the real estate mogul's criticism during a speech at the National Federation of Republican Women's annual conference late last week. 
 
"This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle," Fiorina said in that speech, which was turned into an ad by her allied super-PAC.

Trump had phoned into several national television programs last week to claim that he was simply talking about Fiorina's "persona" for a Rolling Stone cover story that mentioned her "face."

"Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?" Trump was quoted as saying.

The flap set up expectations for a high-profile encounter between the two during the second main-stage GOP debate on Wednesday night.

"Please feel free to respond [to] what you think about his persona," CNN host Jake Tapper, who was moderating the debate, told Fiorina of Trump.
 
Fiorina pointed out that Trump held fellow GOP rival Jeb Bush to account for his remarks on another topic moments earlier, suggesting he could be held to the same standard regarding his insult of her.