Donald Trump's campaign has been trying to come up with an effective way to defuse the flare-up that followed Monday night's presidential debate over Trump's decade-old belittling of a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. After Hillary Clinton mentioned Machado at the debate, her campaign put out an ad featuring the Venezuelan-Cuban actress, two magazine profiles came out, and Machado went on TV to talk about how Trump had publicly called her fat, alleging he used the terms "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping."
The Trump pushback has included arguing that Machado was overweight and difficult, alleging that she was the getaway driver in an attempted murder, that she was allegedly filmed having sex with a costar on the reality TV show La Granja (like MTV's The Real World), and posed topless in Mexican Playboy — you can see all iterations of that in supporter Scottie Nell Hughes's appearance on CNN. Media outlets that support Trump, like Alex Jones' InfoWars, Rush Limbaugh, and The Daily Caller, went dirtier, saying Machado became a porn star (Snopes says she did not).
Trump adviser Mike Flynn, the former DIA chief, made the tame version of this argument on Thursday night's Kelly File. "You look at some of the things that have come out about this young lady in the last 24 hours," he said, and Kelly — who has already criticized Trump's response — stepped in. "Even though this woman had some troubles, even though this Miss Universe had some troubles," she said, "his comments about her weight are on camera," including from earlier this week.
Early Friday morning, Trump apparently decided that his supporters weren't doing a good enough job pressing the case that the Machado "cookie is going to crumble really quickly" for Clinton, as Hughes said, or "blow up in her face," as Newt Gingrich said on Sean Hannity's show, so he took to Twitter to press the case himself.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) September 30, 2016
Because obviously the story is not that Trump publicly humiliated a 19-year-old woman over her weight, as captured on video, but that the woman went on to star in a reality TV show and pose for Playboy. Peter Weber