Donald Trump (EPA/GARY CORONADO/POOL)

 

Fifty-two minutes into Donald Trump's discussion of weighty issues with The Washington Post's editorial board came an interlude about his hands.

"Normal," the Republican presidential front-runner insisted. "Strong." "Good size." "Great." "Fine." "Slightly large, actually."

Trump was asked whether he regretted talking about the size of his hands -- and making an unmistakable allusion to his genitalia -- at a recent debate.

The billionaire mogul blamed the episode on Marco Rubio, whose campaign was struggling at the time, and said the Florida senator was reviving a criticism leveled at him over the years by Graydon Carter, a New York society figure and editor of Vanity Fair. ("Short-fingered vulgarian," is how Carter has often referred to Trump.)

On the stump in late February, Rubio mocked Trump for his "small hands."

"You know what they say about men with small hands," Rubio told a crowd in Salem, Va., pausing to let the audience laugh. "You can't trust 'em."

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio took aim at Donald Trump Feb. 28, criticizing his rival's "small hands" and "spray tan." (Marco Rubio)

At a March 3 debate, Trump said Rubio "referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee."

Meeting with The Post's editorial board, Trump said, "I had no choice" but to respond to Rubio's derision.

"My hands are normal hands," he said. Recounting the feedback he was getting in the aftermath of Rubio's jibe, Trump said, "I was on line shaking hands with supporters and one of the supporters said, ‘Mr. Trump, you have strong hands, you have good size hands.’ And then another one would say, ‘Oh, you have great hands, Mr. Trump. I had no idea.’"

Speaking at a campaign event in Michigan a day after the Fox News GOP debate, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took time out to defend the size of his hands. (Reuters)

"I said, ‘What do you mean?' He said, ‘I thought you were, like, deformed. I thought you had small hands.’"

Trump also lamented the media coverage of his hands, including a cover illustration of The New Yorker, which Trump described as “a hand with little fingers coming out of a stem.”

"I mean, people were writing, ‘How are Mr. Trump’s hands?’ My hands are fine," Trump said. "My hands are normal. Slightly large, actually. In fact, I buy a slightly smaller than large-size glove, okay? But I did this because everybody was saying to me, ‘Oh, your hands are very nice, they’re normal.’"

Trump argued that he had to respond on the debate stage. “I don’t want people to go around thinking that I have a problem," Trump said. "By saying that, I solved the problem."

Pressed on whether the move was presidential, Trump replied, "I don’t know if it’s presidential, honestly.... I can just say that what [Rubio] said was a lie. Everybody, they wanted to do stories on my hands. After I said that, they never did."

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump visited the editorial board of The Washington Post on Mar. 21. Here is audio of the full, unedited interview. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)