WASHINGTON, Sept 30 Republican presidential
candidate Donald Trump deepened his attacks on a former beauty
queen Alicia Machado on Friday, calling her disgusting and
alleging the existence of a sex tape as he refused to back away
from an issue that threatens to damage his already weak standing
among women and Hispanics.
Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, raised Trump's
treatment of the Venezuelan-born former Miss Universe as an
example of how he views women during the two candidates' first
debate on Monday night. Clinton said Trump, the former owner of
the Miss Universe pageants, had called Machado "Miss Piggy" and
also "Miss Housekeeping" because she was a Latina.
Trump did not apologize then and in a television interview
the following day he strongly criticized Machado for having
gained weight after she won the Miss Universe title in 1996.
With less than six weeks to go until the Nov. 8 election,
Trump has refused to let the issue fade and he went on a
pre-dawn tirade on Twitter on Friday.
"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.
He said the Clinton campaign was unaware of the beauty
queen's past and was "duped" by her, but offered no proof of his
claim. His attack came as he struggled to rebound from what was
widely viewed as a loss to Clinton in Monday's debate.
There was no immediate comment from either the Clinton
campaign or from Machado. Machado, who is now a U.S. citizen,
has appeared on major television and cable networks and has
given numerous interviews this week in which she said she was
humiliated by Trump.
Politico reported that Machado has starred in racy reality
TV programs and posed naked for Playboy's Mexican version, but
said media outlets have found no evidence that she has starred
in pornographic films.
Clinton, a former U.S. senator and secretary of state, is
the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major
U.S. political party.
In rising to bait over the Machado issue Trump is in some
ways echoing his lengthy public dispute in August with the
parents of a Muslim Army captain killed in Iraq. That incident
caused anguish among many Republican leaders concerned that he
had nothing to gain by attacking a grieving family.
His remarks on Friday could hurt Trump further with women
and Hispanic voters, both groups that favor Clinton in opinion
An average of opinion polls aggregated by RealClearPolitics
showed Clinton ahead of Trump by 2.9 percentage points on
Friday, or 47.3 points to 44.4, slightly lower than the previous
margin of 3 points on Wednesday, but well up from 0.9 point on
Sept. 19. The latest Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll,
released on Wednesday, showed Clinton leading by 42 percent to
Trump's 38 percent among likely voters.
In his comments on Tuesday morning, Trump told Fox News:
"She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight.
And it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that
- her attitude - and we had a real problem with her."
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)