Hillary Clinton Totally Knows Donald Trump Fell Into Her Alicia Machado Trap

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took to Twitter in the early hours of Friday morning to attack former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado — and his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton hit right back at him, saying, "We've heard Donald's insults for years, and his policies reflect this disregard — even contempt — for women."

Machado entered the presidential conversation on Monday night at the first presidential debate, when Clinton brought up Machado as an example of Trump’s horrible attitudes towards women. She claimed Trump called Machado "Miss Piggy" when she gained weight and "miss Housekeeper" because of her Hispanic heritage. Clinton finished her charge against Trump wth the kicker, “She has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she’s going to vote this November.”

Since then, rather than try and move on from Machado, Trump has doubled-down on his attacks, going after her during a Fox News interview Tuesday, saying, “She was the winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.” The rage seemed to boil over — at 5:15 a.m. ET Friday, no less — when Trump went on the attack on Twitter, calling Machado “my worst Miss U,” “a con,” and “disgusting,” insinuating that Machado had made a sex tape.

The Clinton campaign seemed ready, even eager to fire back, launching a tweetstorm of their own just a few hours later. “What kind of a man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?” she tweeted. Reading the cutting tweets, it appears that softball season is over.

Enlisting Machado as a Clinton supporter (as well as a Trump inflamer) has been a masterstroke; Trump’s inability to let Machado go is reminiscent of his media battle with the family of slain soldier Humayun Khan, who spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention.

What’s fascinating about both the Machado and the Khan rows is that they’ve been given legs not by anything the Clinton campaign has done, but by Trump’s insistence on refuting their attacks. While this at first makes Trump come off as belligerent and a blowhard, Clinton’s calling him out as “thin-skinned” is only half the story. Throw in the image of him furiously tweeting away in the pre-dawn hours, and it’s not hard to make the leap to a President Trump nuking the Chinese for failing to provide a staircase for his plane.

That Trump should betray so clearly in these interactions his emotional vulnerability is at first disorienting, considering that we’re dealing with a man who’s so bombastic that he uses the word “braggadocious” to describe his humility. But his clear desire for validation in the midst of these squabbles seems to point out that insecure Trump is simply looking for the biggest validation of them all — being elected president.