One of the most reliable things about the current election campaign is that on any given day, Republican candidate Donald Trump is almost certain to say something on Twitter that will set off alarm bells or cause some kind of controversy. And Friday morning was no exception to that rule.
Despite the fact that Trump was widely viewed as having lost the recent debate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and that the election itself is just over a month away, the candidate chose to tweet not about the political issues in the campaign but about his dislike of former Miss Universe contestant Alicia Machado.
Machado came up during the debate because Clinton referred to her and to Trump’s attacks on her weight gain during the competition. It was just one example Clinton used of his demeaning attitude towards women, and it was almost a parenthetical reference. But Trump seemed to be unable to let it go.
After the debate, he talked at length on Fox News about how Machado allegedly gained 60 pounds, and how he tried to support her after the pageant wanted to fire her.
Then early Friday morning, Trump chose for some unknown reason to unleash a series of tweets about her allegedly unsavory past, combined with a conspiracy theory about her relationship with Clinton. He called Machado “my worst Miss Universe,” and said Clinton was duped into referring to her in the debate.
The Republican candidate said that this showed that “Crooked Hillary” suffers from bad judgment. And he suggested that Clinton helped Machado—whom he called “disgusting”—to become a U.S. citizen so that she could use her in the debate. He also advised his followers to “check out” Machado’s sex tape.
One of the hallmarks of Trump’s candidacy has been his use of social media, particularly Twitter (TWTR), something that has arguably helped drive interest in his campaign and garnered a ton of free publicity. The former reality TV show host uses the medium like few other politicians do, and it has paid off for him.
That openness has also been a double-edged sword, however, because it has allowed him to speak his mind freely, even when every political campaign manager in the world would probably advise him not to. Will that behavior endear him to his fans, or cause more people to see him as emotionally and psychologically unfit for office?