In an interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Wednesday, Trump tried to push back against the Clinton campaign’s use of Machado’s story to paint a picture of Trump as misogynistic. At Monday’s debate, Hillary Clinton mentioned Machado’s story that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight. Clinton’s campaign since held a conference call with Machado and released a web video of her story.
Trump said that in 1996, he had just purchased the pageant and that those who ran it wanted to drop her.
“She did not do well,” Trump told O’Reilly. “She had a lot of difficulties and you know, they wanted to fire her. The company itself wanted to fire her.”
He said that he saved her job because “I said that is going to be ruinous.”
He added, “I said don’t do that; let her try and lose the weight. Can you imagine I end up in a position like this?”
Machado describes her experience with Trump as a nightmare, and said she suffered from an eating disorder in the years after the pageant. At one point during that year, Trump held a press availability as he went to a gym to observe Machado trying to lose weight.
“It is a beauty contest,” Trump told O’Reilly. “Say what you want, Bill. They know what they are getting into.”
Trump also noted that “a lot of things are coming out about her.” He cited stories about Machado from 1998 in which she was accused of threatening a judge after he indicted her boyfriend for attempted murder, and was accused of driving a getaway car from the scene of the crime. She was never charged.
“You know, I have my past. Everybody has a past,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. “I’m not a saint girl. But that is not the point now.”
Machado’s story has been one of the lingering controversies to follow Monday night’s debate, which was watched by a record 84 million people, according to Nielsen.
Ana Navarro, CNN political contributor and former adviser to John McCain, tweeted out support for highlighting some of Trump’s comments about Machado’s weight.
“I’ve struggled w/weight issues all my life,” she wrote. “And I agree. A man who shames and bullies a woman for her weight, isn’t even fit to be a man.”
Update: Newt Gingrich, a Trump supporter, also chimed in on Machado while addressing the Log Cabin Republicans on Wednesday night, according to the Daily Mail. “You are not supposed to gain 60 pounds the year you’re Miss Universe,”