US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday urged voters to check out the supposed “sex tape” of a former Miss Universe backing US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, provoking the Democrat to label him “unhinged” in a surreal new turn to the White House race.
In a pre-dawn Twitter rant, the Republican nominee accused Clinton of helping Alicia Machado obtain citizenship in order to exploit her story against him.
The Venezuela-born Machado, who claims the billionaire bullied her mercilessly after she won the Trump-owned beauty pageant in 1996, has shot to public attention since Clinton raised her case at this week’s presidential debate.
“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?” Trump said in one of a series of virulent tweets.
Clinton has lashed out at Trump’s history of abusive remarks that included humiliating Machado over her weight gain and Latina origins, nicknaming her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”
The Democrat said that Trump’s overnight attacks on the former beauty queen were new evidence that he lacks the steadiness to be president.
“This is... unhinged, even for Trump,” Clinton said in her own series of pointed tweets in response to his sex tape allegation.
“Who gets up at three o’clock in the morning to engage in a Twitter attack against a former Miss Universe?” Clinton later asked supporters at a Florida rally. “It proves, yet again, that he is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander in chief.”
By highlighting Machado’s case, Clinton’s campaign managed to provoke Trump into a potentially damaging outburst with just five weeks left in the race.
The Machado issue helps Clinton with both women and Hispanics, key voters in battleground states such as Florida.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said the former first lady called Machado to offer her support.
She thanked the former beauty queen “for all she had done and the courage she has shown,” he said.
Meanwhile, Machado accused Trump in a news release of issuing “slanders and false accusations about my life in order to humiliate, intimidate and unbalance me.”
She repeated her pledge of “absolute support for Secretary Clinton, on behalf of all women.”
Trump has often seemed to make provocative outbursts to deflect media attention — in this case from the widespread sense that he fared poorly in the first US presidential debate on Monday. He has also hinted at plans to attack Clinton over her husband’s past infidelity.
However, he has also seemed unable, at times, to let any criticism go unanswered. Observers saw Clinton’s mention of Machado as an attempt to bait Trump.
According to the fact-checking Web site Snopes, Trump’s sex tape allegation apparently refers to Machado’s appearance on a reality TV show in which she is shown in bed, under covers, with another participant.
Machado also appeared in Playboy magazine. However, a pornographic video circulated in recent years purporting to star the former Miss Universe was debunked as a fake.
Trump, addressing his nearly 12 million Twitter followers, said Machado had “duped” Clinton.
“Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an ‘angel’ without checking her past, which is terrible!” he wrote.
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