Why Hillary Clinton Is Talking About Miss Universe

The first presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton covered many topics, but it was in the last few minutes of the debate that one of Trump's most problematic issues got laser beam-like focus, and that was when Clinton called out Trump for his harsh language toward — and treatment of — women.

Trump and Miss Universe

In an effort to highlight concerns over Trump's sexism, Clinton brought up Alicia Machado, the winner of the 1996 Miss Universe competition, which Trump ran from 1996 until 2015. 

Machado has claimed that Trump was cruel to her, and called her names like "Miss Piggy" — a dig at her weight. But that's not the only way Trump insulted her. And at the end of the debate, Clinton explained the depths to which Trump sank.

As transcribed from CNN:

"... one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest — he loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them — and he called this woman 'Miss Piggy,' then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping' because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado. And she has become a US citizen and you can bet she is going to vote this November."

Trump's Disastrous Morning After Interview

On Tuesday morning, Trump called in to Fox & Friends to explain the whole Machado situation. 

Here's what he said in the interview, transcribed by CNN:

"She was the winner and you know, 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, so Hillary went back into the years and she found this girl — this was many years ago. And found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Theresa. And it wasn't quite that way but that's ok. Hillary has to do what she has to do."

Here's the actual footage:

And here's a closer look at the Fox & Friends hosts' stunned reactions to Trump's double-down:

Machado alleges that Trump's comments prompted her to develop an eating disorder, telling The New York Times. "... I was sick, had anorexia and bulimia for five years. Over the past 20 years, I've gone to a lot of psychologists to combat this."

Why is Clinton bringing this up?

Clinton's polling with female voters has waxed and waned since the Democratic National Convention. In August, a Washington Post/ABC poll showed the former secretary of state had a 23-point lead among women against Trump. However, according to a Sept. 22 Rasmussen report poll, "Trump holds a double-digit advantage among men, while Clinton leads by just four among women." 

In an effort to widen that margin, Clinton appears to be targeting her latest line of attack around Trump's inability to connect with female voters by using his own words against him

While post-debate polling data needs to be taken with a grain of salt, Public Policy Polling reports women gave Clinton a decisive advantage. 

"Clinton also won the debate by particularly wide margins with women (54/36) and voters who are either African American or Latino (77/13). Among white voters the debate was basically a draw with Trump coming out ahead 47/45."