Alicia Machado Is So Much More Than A Campaign Pawn

After being the target of a Donald Trump Brand™ Twitter attack Friday morning, former Miss Universe winner and current Hillary Clinton supporter Alicia Machado hit back forcefully against the Republica nominee. Machado released a statement calling the accusations and insinuations from Trump “cheap lies with bad intentions” and declaring on Twitter that she “will not be bullied or silenced.”

Just after 5 a.m. ET, Trump went after Machado, calling her “disgusting,” a “con,” and insinuating that she had a sex tape (without offering any evidence of it). “Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U.,” Trump tweeted, before adding a few minutes later, “Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT!”

Machado’s response, which she published on her Facebook page both in Spanish and English, showed her taking the high road — not attacking Trump personally — while still being unsparing in her criticism.

“This, of course, is not the first time the candidate insists on discrediting someone or insists on demoralizing women, minorities, and people of certain religions through his hateful campaign,” she said in her statement. “This is definitely one of his most frightful characteristics.”

She went on to say, “I will continue taking positive steps for the Latino community. I will continue being an activist for women's rights and fighting for the respect we deserve.”

The Venezuelan-born actress and model’s past with Trump was injected into the political conversation during Monday night’s presidential debate, when Clinton alluded to Trump’s treatment of her in the 1990s.

“One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest,” Clinton said towards the end of the debate. “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.”

Clinton went on, even as Trump tried to yell over her, to add, “And she’s become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she’s going to vote in November.”

Rather than try and move past Clinton’s charge, Trump has spent considerable media capital trying to discredit Machado, only to perpetuate the media’s interest in the story — and their scrutiny of him. Trump displayed a similar inability to let things go in August, when he got into a media scrap with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a slain U.S. soldier who spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention.

Machado may prove to be an valuable ally for Clinton in her battle against Trump, especially with the increasingly important role the Latino vote is expected to play in national elections. But for the moment, Machado is masterfully executing a much more vital role: forcing Trump to showcase why USA Today's editorial board and many others believe he is "unfit for the presidency."