Trump shames beauty queen in Twit­ter rant

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Josh Eder­man and Steve Peo­ples As­so­ci­ated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. >> Plung­ing deeper into cam­paign con­tro­versy, Don­ald Trump pub­licly shamed a for­mer beauty queen on Fri­day for her “dis­gust­ing” sex­ual past and then — in one of pres­i­den­tial his­tory’s more bizarre mo­ments — en­cour­aged Amer­i­cans to watch a “sex tape” he said would sup­port his case.

The tweet-storm that Trump launched into at 3:20 a.m. started a day of did-that-just-hap­pen mo­ments that ended with Clin­ton’s cam­paign call­ing Trump an adult film star. Even many of Trump’s sup­port­ers shook their heads at their can­di­date’s lat­est out­burst, wor­ried it could fur­ther hurt him among the na­tion’s women, many of them al­ready skep­ti­cal, whose votes he’ll badly need to win elec­tion.

“Did Crooked Hil­lary help dis­gust­ing (check out sex tape and past) Ali­cia M be­come a U.S. cit­i­zen so she could use her in the de­bate?” read a mis­sive from Trump posted on Twit­ter at 5:30 a.m. That re­ferred to 1996 Miss Uni­verse Ali­cia Machado, a Venezue­laborn woman whose weight gain he has said cre­ated ter­ri­ble prob­lems for the pageant he for­merly owned.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Trump’s pre-dawn Twit­ter tirade ric­o­cheted across the cam­paign trail.

Trump’s cam­paign ac­cused the me­dia and Hil­lary Clin­ton of col­lud­ing to set him up for fresh con­dem­na­tion, to which Clin­ton re­torted, “His lat­est twit­ter melt­down is un­hinged, even for him.”

Machado took to Facebook to say his tweets were part of a pat­tern of “de­mor­al­iz­ing women,” call­ing them “cheap lies with bad in­ten­tions.” Planned Par­ent­hood said it showed that Trump’s “misog­yny knows no bounds.” And Clin­ton said they showed anew why some­one with Trump’s tem­per­a­ment “should not be any­where near the nu­clear codes.”

With less than 40 days left in the elec­tion, Trump’s broad­side threw his cam­paign into a fresh round of sec­ond-guess­ing the can­di­date’s in­stincts and con­fu­sion about what to do next. To be­liev­ers in tra­di­tional po­lit­i­cal norms, it seemed like the op­po­site of what was needed to win over fe­males, His­pan­ics and young Amer­i­cans whose sup­port could well de­ter­mine the elec­tion.

Sham­ing Machado over in­ti­mate de­tails from her past could be par­tic­u­larly risky as Trump tries to win over more fe­male vot­ers, many of whom are turned away by such per­sonal at­tacks. It also risks call­ing fur­ther at­ten­tion to the thrice-mar­ried Trump’s own his­tory with women.

What kind of a man, Clin­ton asked, “stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and con­spir­acy the­o­ries?”

Even Trump’s most vo­cal al­lies seemed at a loss for words.

“He’s be­ing Trump. I don’t have any com­ment be­yond that,” said for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, a top sup­porter. Gen­er­ally chatty and oc­ca­sion­ally crit­i­cal of Trump, Gin­grich said tersely that Trump some­times does “strange things,” but that Clin­ton lies. “I’ll let you de­cide which is worse for Amer­ica.”

But Trump’s in­ner cir­cle fol­lowed his lead by re­fus­ing to con­cede any mis­steps. Trump didn’t men­tion the tweets Fri­day evening as he ral­lied sup­port­ers in Michi­gan. In­stead, he re­turned to Twit­ter to in­voke Clin­ton’s fa­mous ad from her 2008 cam­paign por­tray­ing her as the best can­di­date to pick up an ur­gent call at the White House at 3 a.m.

“For those few peo­ple knock­ing me for tweet­ing at three o’clock in the morn­ing, at least you know I will be there, awake, to an­swer the call!” Trump wrote.

Machado has been thrust to cen­ter stage in the cam­paign since Clin­ton noted Mon­day in the first de­bate that Trump had mocked her pub­licly for gain­ing weight af­ter she won Miss Uni­verse. If that was a trap laid by Clin­ton, the ir­re­press­ible Trump dug him­self deeper the next day by say­ing Machado’s “mas­sive” weight gain had been “a real prob­lem.”

That gave Clin­ton’s cam­paign the open­ing it wanted. Her team cir­cu­lated videos fea­tur­ing Machado ac­cus­ing Trump of de­stroy­ing her self-con­fi­dence and ar­ranged for re­porters to in­ter­view her, just as many vot­ers were start­ing to cast early bal­lots. Clin­ton’s spokesman said she called Machado Fri­day to thank her for her courage.

Said Trump spokes­woman Jes­sica Ditto, “This is the sin­gle big­gest co­or­di­nated me­dia at­tack in his­tory.”

His Twit­ter taunts re­ferred to footage from a Span­ish re­al­ity show in 2005 in which Machado was a con­tes­tant and ap­peared on cam­era in bed with a male con­tes­tant. The im­ages are grainy and do not in­clude nudity, though Machado later ac­knowl­edged in the His­panic me­dia that she was hav­ing sex in the video.

Mud­dy­ing the wa­ters: an ex­plicit 2000 Play­boy video with a cameo by Trump. In a short clip posted on the web­site Buz­zFeed, Trump pours a bot­tle of cham­pagne on a Play­boy-branded limo on a New York street, sur­rounded by a gag­gle of women.

“There’s been a lot of talk about sex tapes to­day and in a strange turn of events only one adult film has emerged to­day, and its star is Don­ald Trump,” said Clin­ton spokesman Nick Mer­rill, adding he hadn’t seen the film.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign has high­lighted Machado’s sta­tus as a new U.S. cit­i­zen and her plans to cast her first vote for the for­mer sec­re­tary of state. But spokes­woman Jen­nifer Palmieri said Clin­ton did not help Machado be­come a cit­i­zen.

For Repub­li­cans, the out­burst seemed to fore­close any pos­si­bil­ity that Trump, in the cam­paign’s fi­nal weeks, might rein­vent him­self as some­one with the dis­ci­pline and re­straint that many vot­ers want in their com­man­der in chief. Trump’s al­lies have im­plored him to stick to at­tacks on Clin­ton’s fam­ily foun­da­tion, her emails or her long his­tory as a po­lit­i­cal in­sider, cri­tiques that fall fur­ther out of view when­ever he sparks a new con­tro­versy.

JOHN LOCHER—THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump signs a hat af­ter a rally Fri­day in Novi, Mich.

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