At the end of Monday night’s presidential debate, Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of taunting one of his former Miss Universe contestants about her weight.
Clinton said the Republican nominee’s criticisms of Alicia Machado, a Venezuelan who won the Miss Universe contest in 1996, was “one of the worst things he said” about women. “He called this woman Miss Piggy. Then he called her Miss Housekeeping because she was Latina.”
While Trump appeared to dispute Clinton’s accusation on the debate stage, he called into Fox and Friends Tuesday morning and once again called Machado fat.
“I know that person. That person was a Miss Universe person,” Trump told the Fox News morning show. “And she was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst, she was impossible,” he said. “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude.”
Trump has long struggled to appeal to women — polls show Clinton regularly outperforming Trump by double digits with female voters. And Trump has also alienated Latino voters throughout the campaign, with his harsh rhetoric about immigrants living in the country illegally.
With his past statements about Machado playing into critiques Clinton wanted to make at Monday night’s high-profile debate, the Clinton campaign was quick to pounce. An hour after the debate ended, her campaign tweeted a two-minute video about Machado’s experience with Trump.
“He was very overwhelming. I was very scared of him,” she says in Spanish. “He’d yell at me all the time. He’d tell me ‘you look ugly’ or ‘you look fat.’ Sometimes he’d ‘play’ with me and say ‘Hello Miss Piggy, hello Miss Housekeeping.’ ”
The Clinton campaign’s video also includes archived footage of Trump telling reporters “she weighed 118 pounds, or 117 pounds, and she went up to 160 or 170. So this is somebody who likes to eat.”
Machado told the campaign that the experience led to long-term eating disorders. “I wouldn’t eat, and I would still see myself as fat, because a powerful man had said so.”
“He always treated me like a little thing. He always treated me like trash,” Machado said Tuesday in a conference call organized by the Clinton campaign.
She said she was caught off-guard when Clinton talked about her Monday night. “I started to cry because I never imagined that someone so important would care about my story,” she said, speaking in Spanish.
“I’m very sorry that I might be an uncomfortable person for Mr. Trump,” Machado said, “but that’s how things happen, that’s how things go.”
Meg Anderson contributed to this report