Thursday 23 November 2017

Trump in new insult to ex-Miss Universe

Insulted: Alicia Machado
Insulted: Alicia Machado

Lisa Lerer, New York

A defensive Donald Trump gave Hillary Clinton plenty of material for the next phase of her presidential campaign, choosing to publicly reopen some of her most damaging attacks.

The day after his first election debate, Mr Trump blamed the moderator and a bad microphone for his performance and said he was holding back to avoid embarrassing Mrs Clinton. Next time, he threatened, he might get more personal and make a bigger political issue of former President Bill Clinton's marital infidelities.

On Monday night, Mr Trump brushed off Mrs Clinton's debate claim that he had once shamed a former Miss Universe winner for her weight. But then he dug deeper the next day - extending the controversy over what was one of his most negative debate night moments.

"She gained a massive amount of weight. It was a real problem. We had a real problem," Mr Trump told 'Fox And Friends' about Alicia Machado, the 1996 winner of the pageant he once owned.

The comments were reminiscent of previous times when Mr Trump has attacked private citizens in deeply personal terms.

"I watched her very carefully and I was also holding back," Mr Trump said of Mrs Clinton, reflecting on the TV debate at an evening rally on Tuesday in Melbourne, Florida. "I didn't want to do anything to embarrass her."

It is unclear whether a Trump attack on Bill Clinton's infidelities may help or hurt his appeal.

But Mr Trump's latest comments about Ms Machado were striking in that they came just as he was working to broaden his appeal among minority voters and women - key demographic groups .

Clinton aides acknowledged they had laid a trap for Mr Trump. "He seemed unable to handle that big stage," said Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Meanwhile, the US congress yesterday forced through a bill that will allow the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia, overriding a veto by Barack Obama for the first time in his presidency.

The legislation is set to cause major diplomatic fallout, with countries fearing it could leave them vulnerable to law suits and endanger military and intelligence personnel.

While Saudi Arabia has never admitted playing a role in the terror attack, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, and there have been suspicions that some had received support from individuals with possible connections to the kingdom's government.

President Obama vetoed the bill earlier this month on the basis that it would erode the principle of "sovereign immunity". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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