In Sunday's presidential debate, moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz asked Republican candidate Donald Trump about Trump's now-infamous 3 a.m. tweetstorm when he criticized former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Trump answered the question by denying that he told Twitter users to check out Machado's alleged sex tape (he did), and then pivoting to something completely irrelevant to the question — Benghazi.
Machado came up during the first presidential debate because Hillary Clinton referenced her as an example of a woman that Trump has insulted on a sexist and inappropriate level. Clinton said that Trump called Machado "Miss Housekeeping," in a reference to her Latina heritage, and "Miss Piggy," when she appeared to have gained weight. A few days later, in a bizarre series of tweets posted near dawn, Trump called Machado "disgusting" and accused her of having appeared in a sex tape, which he told his Twitter followers to check out.
Cooper asked Trump whether an early-morning series of tweets urging people to view a sex tape demonstrated discipline and presidential behavior. Trump denied that he had done so, saying he was merely encouraging his Twitter followers to "take a look at the person she builds up to be this wonderful Girl Scout who wasn't" and then quickly pivoting to a discussion of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The connection between the two appeared to be that the tweet storm and attack both occurred in the early hours of the morning.
Trump's pivot to Benghazi was, to say the least, not the smoothest moment of his political career:
By the way, just so you understand, when she said three o'clock in the morning, take a look at Benghazi. She said, who's gonna answer the call at three o'clock in the morning? Guess what, she didn't answer it because when Ambassador Stevens...
Cooper was quick to interject, pointing out that he wasn't addressing the question, but Trump pressed on, arguing that the Libyan ambassador requested assistance hundreds of times and didn't receive it.
Trump did circle back to a vague reference to his personal attack on Machado, saying:
Tweeting is a modern-day form of communication, I mean you can like it or not like it. Between Facebook and Twitter I have almost 25 million people ... I'm not un-proud of it, to be honest with you.
I can understand why Trump would want to divert attention from his attacks on women, particularly this week, but the attempt to connect it to Machado was so blatantly unrelated that it failed to work. To use his words, Trump probably should be "un-proud" of this particular diversionary tactic.