Donald Trump praised Pope Francis hours after the pontiff questioned his Christian faith.
Pope Francis had said Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the US border with Mexico was not Christian, provoking a strong response from the businessman.
However, hours later, at a town hall event in South Carolina, Donald Trump was more conciliatory.
Republican voters in the US state will make their presidential choice in days.
The Republican presidential hopeful leads the South Carolina polls and he took to a stage in Columbia on February 18 to answer questions on national television.
When asked about his row with the Pope, Donald Trump said he wouldn’t describe it as a fight, although he later said he didn’t like fighting with him.
“I have a lot of respect for the Pope. He has a lot of personality and I think he’s doing a very good job, he has a lot of energy.”
Donald Trump said the pontiff was misinformed when he criticized the proposed wall, because he was not aware of the drugs coming in and the other security problems that made a strong border a necessity.
That was roundly condemned by Donald Trump, who issued a statement in which he called the comments “disgraceful”.
Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance is a central plank in his campaign – he wants to deport 11 million undocumented migrants and said Muslims should be temporarily barred from coming to the US.
The row with Pope Francis comes two days before Republicans in South Carolina and Democratic voters in Nevada will choose their presidential candidates.
Donald Trump, who has no political experience but won in New Hampshire, is the clear frontrunner in February 20 Republican vote.
At the town hall event on February 18 hosted by CNN, Donald Trump backed down from comments made at the weekend when he said President George W. Bush lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction before invading Iraq.