For nearly all 90 minutes of Monday's debate, it didn't seem like Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major political party engaging in her first presidential debate, would have the chance to reference gender. But in his second-to-last question of the night, Lester Holt asked Donald Trump about his comments that Clinton "doesn't have a presidential look."
"She doesn’t have the look,” Trump responded. "She doesn’t have the stamina. I said that she doesn’t have the stamina and I don’t believe she has the stamina.”
Clinton was ready for the question. "Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities and nations around the world — or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee — he can talk to me about stamina,” she said.
"He tried to switch from looks to stamina,” Clinton continued. "This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs."
Last week, Clinton campaign released a 30-second ad making a similar point. It shows 10 young women looking at themselves in mirrors as Trump's musings on women's bodies play in the background: "I'd look her right in that fat ugly face of hers ... She's a slob ... She ate like a pig ... A person who's flat-chested is very hard to be a 10 ... Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat [bleep]? Absolutely."
Since Friday, the ad has been played on YouTube nearly 4.5 million times.
On Monday night, Clinton continued pushing Trump on his remarks.
"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," she said. "He called this woman Miss Piggy. Then he called her Miss Housekeeping, because she was Latina. Donald," — Clinton called him Donald throughout the entire night — "she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado, and she has become a US citizen, and you can bet she's going to vote this November."
Machado was named Miss Venezuela in 1995 and Miss Universe in 1996. In May, she told the New York Times that she suffered anorexia and bulimia after Trump led a public campaign to push her to lose weight, including telling Howard Stern she was an "eating machine."
Trump didn't respond to Clinton's surprising introduction of Machado, instead saying that Rosie O'Donnell — the subject of his "fat ugly face" comment — "deserves" the "very tough things" he said about her and that "nobody feels sorry for her."
He said he didn't deserve the "untrue" "misrepresentations" Clinton was spreading in her negative ads about him.
"I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, I can't do it," Trump said. "I just can't do it. It's inappropriate. It's not nice."
Jessica Testa is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jessica Testa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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