Clinton labels Trump ‘unhinged’ over tweets on ex-beauty queen

Refusal to drop attack on Alicia Machado risks damage to Trump’s standing among women

Alicia Machado, who won the Miss Universe pageant in 1996, photographed in May  2016. File photograph: Emily Berl/New York Times

Alicia Machado, who won the Miss Universe pageant in 1996, photographed in May 2016. File photograph: Emily Berl/New York Times

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump escalated his attacks on a former beauty queen used by rival Hillary Clinton to attack him by falsely claiming that the woman featured in a “sex tape”.

Mrs Clinton described him as “unhinged” over his overnight Twitter onslaught aimed at discrediting 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado.

The Democratic presidential nominee assailed Mr Trump for past sexist remarks in last Monday’s debate, holding up Ms Machado as a victim of his verbal assaults in one of the most damaging moments of the televised encounter for the Republican.

Mr Trump allegedly referred to the Venezuela-born woman as “Miss Piggy” because of her weight and “Miss Housekeeping” due to her Latin heritage after being crowned Miss Universe when he ran the contest.

Since then, Mr Trump’s supporters and hard-right conservative publications have tried to undermine Ms Machado, pointing to reports claiming that she drove a getaway car from a murder scene in Venezuela in 1998 and referring to a purported “sex tape” that appears to relate to suggestive footage recorded during her appearance on a Spanish reality television show modelled on Big Brother.

In Trump’s overnight tweets, the New York property developer claimed that Mrs Clinton had been “duped and used” by her and “floated her as an ‘angel’ without checking her past.”

‘Bad judgment

Mrs Clinton suffered from “bad judgment” and had been “set up by a con”, he said.

He sent his first of four overnight tweets, dubbed a “tweetstorm” by the US media, at 3.20am.

In a 5.30am tweet: “Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a US citizen so she could use her in the debate?”

The Clinton camp has jumped on the online musings as evidence that Mr Trump is unfit to be president.

“What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?” Mrs Clinton tweeted on Friday.

Correct the Record, a super political action committee backing the Democrat, suggested that Mr Trump may have been venting his frustration at Mrs Clinton’s rise in the opinion polls following the debate.