Trump and allies digging into attacks on beauty queen – Politico
Donald Trump and his allies are refusing to let up on their attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, with Newt Gingrich shaming her for gaining weight during her reign and Corey Lewandowski suggesting sheâs an attempted murderer.
The sustained assault has provided a wide opening for Hillary Clintonâs campaign to drive home the narrative that Trump is a misogynist and a horrible role model for votersâ children.
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It also represents another self-inflicted wound for Trump, who went into Monday nightâs debate having almost closed the gap with Clinton in many crucial battleground states.
But Clinton sprung a trap on the debate stage, bringing up Trumpâs past public shaming of Machado as âMiss Piggyâ and âMiss Housekeeping,â and Trump has since been struggling to break free.
Even after receiving blowback for doubling down on Tuesday morning, when Trump said Machado had âgained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,â the Republican presidential nominee again stepped in it Wednesday night, claiming to have spared Machado when others wanted to fire her as Miss Universe.
âI saved her job because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight,â Trump told Fox News host Bill OâReilly in a pre-taped interview broadcast Wednesday evening. âAnd it is a beauty contest. You know, I mean, say what you want, Bill, I mean, they know what they’re getting into. Itâs a beauty contest.â
Gingrich, a former House speaker and top Trump surrogate, echoed Trumpâs attack line during a dinner address to the Log Cabin Republicans in Washington on Wednesday.
âYouâre not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that youâre Miss Universe,â Gingrich said, eliciting laughter from the room of Republicans.
âYou got to be kidding me,â Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri tweeted in response to Gingrichâs comment. âI am sorry, I can’t get past this. Newt Gingrich is criticizing someone for their weight.â
The attacks didnât stop at the dinner table, though. Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager who still has ties to the campaign and contributes regularly to CNN, launched a new attack during the breakfast hour Thursday, resurfacing a decades-old allegation that Machado was involved in an attempted murder in Venezuela.
âThe Clinton campaign took a person and brought her into a debate who has been part of a murder,â he said on CNN. âWe know that. True.â
Machado was accused of being an accomplice in an attempted murder in 1997 for allegedly driving the getaway car after her boyfriend wounded his brother-in-law in a shooting. While her boyfriend was indicted, the charges against her were dropped over lack of evidence.
The Trump campaignâs broadside, reminiscent of his unwinnable brawl with the Gold Star Khan family, plays into the narrative the Clinton campaign has hammered for months: that Trump, a man who insults women, minorities and disabled people while never apologizing, is temperamentally unfit for the Oval Office.
In an ad this week, the Clinton campaign enlisted the services of Michelle Obama, who praises Clinton in the 30-second spot as âa president our kids can look up toâ â a sharp contrast from Trump, a man who President Barack Obama warned Wednesday is ânot somebody I want in the Oval Office that my daughters are listening to and that sons are listening to.â
Trump has also threatened to attack Clinton by broaching her husbandâs past infidelities, suggesting that he refrained from doing so during Mondayâs debate because it was âinappropriate,â ânot niceâ and he just couldnât do it in front of their daughter, Chelsea Clinton.
Clintonâs campaign has already prepared itself, all but inviting Trump to launch such an ill-advised attack they say would have an adverse effect, propelling Clinton, not Trump, to the White House.
âAfter his disastrous debate performance and his sexist attack on a former Miss Universe over her weight, Donald Trump is now trying to deflect by going after Hillary Clinton about her marriage,â Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement on Thursday. âWhile Trump and his lieutenants like Roger Stone and David Bossie may want to dredge up failed attacks from the 1990s, as many Republicans have warned, this is a mistake that is going to backfire.â
Under Kellyanne Conwayâs leadership, Trumpâs campaign righted the ship after two failed iterations and a rough stretch in which Clinton dominated in most national and swing state polls coming out of the nominating conventions.
But since Mondayâs debate, the GOP nominee and his campaign have been focused on much more than just his opponent. While Trump has gone after debate moderator Lester Holt for unfair questioning, floated a conspiracy about his microphone having been tampered with, relentlessly attacked Machado and accused Google of âsuppressingâ negative stories about Clinton, his campaign has played offense and defense for him.
In a feisty faceoff with Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Wednesday, Conway claimed Trump has only made âa couple of commentsâ in the past â25 years or so with respect to women,â while deputy campaign manager David Bossie told Fox News earlier Wednesday that Clinton is an âenabler.â
In an interview Thursday, Conway told âThe Viewâ that she doesnât âdiscuss peopleâs weights and their looks,â but as her segment concluded, she fired a parting shot at the former Miss Universe in the way Trump did at Clinton by raising Bill Clinton’s infidelities in his thinly-veiled remarks Monday.
âShe obviously has a troubled past that I wonât get into,â she said.