Is Donald Trump trying to defuse his public feud with Pope Francis?
"I don't like fighting with the Pope... Actually, I don't think it's a fight, I think he said something much softer than originally reported by the media. I think that he heard one side of the story, which is probably by the Mexican government," Trump said on CNN.
The uproar erupted as Pope Francis was flying out of Mexico. He said Trump was "not Christian" for his plan to build a wall to halt illegal immigration.
Trump quickly hit back in a response on social media.
He also took a shot at the Pope's reaction to his wall comments.
"He's got an awfully big wall at the Vatican, I will tell you," Trump said at a town hall in South Carolina on Thursday night.
Dan Scavino, a senior Trump adviser, also tweeted an aerial photo of the Vatican, writing:
Amazing comments from the Pope- considering Vatican City is 100% surrounded by massive walls. pic.twitter.com/g3iVLDVGe5— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) February 18, 2016
The latest NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Marist poll in South Carolina shows a tightening of the race. Trump's at 28 percent to Ted Cruz’s 23 percent.
The New York Daily News continued its anti-Tump campaign with the headline "anti-Christ!"
Inside, the paper says: "God, he is evil!"