The comment—a shift in tone from his previous defense of the tweet—was part of an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published Saturday.
“Yeah, it was a mistake,” Trump said. “If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it.”
Trump’s campaign defended the tweet, which came as part of a bizarre feud between the real estate mogul and opponent Ted Cruz involving their respective wives, during CNN’s presidential town hall on Tuesday. The image included an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz alongside a glamorous photo of Melania Trump.
In the new interview, Trump still said he didn’t “necessarily” view the image of Heidi Cruz as negative, and he repeated his argument that it was a response to Ted Cruz’s actions. The feud began when a Super PAC supporting Cruz—but legally barred from coordinating with him—released an ad featuring a nearly nude photo of Melania Trump.
During the interview, Dowd also references allegations that Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski forcibly yanked the arm of reporter Michelle Fields, another incident might have exacerbated the candidate’s growing problem with female voters. Trump has defended Lewandowski, who was charged with misdemeanor battery in the incident.
Dowd asked Trump if it would have been better for Lewandoski to have apologized to Fields.
“You’re right, but from what I understand it wouldn’t have mattered,” Trump said.
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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com