As news of Donald Trump’s comments about Alicia Machado continued to drive the news cycle Friday, even some of his supporters were pleading with him to stop firing off insulting tweets and get back on message.
“Stop the stupid tweeting!!” Travis J. Crenshaw commented on Trump’s Facebook page. “You are a presidential candidate, those kind of things are beneath you now. You only have one target, and that is Hillary!”
“Mr. Trump – Please get back to your message,” added Kristin Meiswinkel. “STOP with all of the minor stuff – stop the attacks. GET OUT your MESSAGE!!! Don’t blow it – you’re so close. remember to check your ego at the door.”
Trump fired off a series of tweets denigrating the former Miss Universe early Friday morning that breathed new life into the conversation about his comments on her weight when she won the pageant in 1996. Trump publicly shamed her for gaining weight then, and it took him less than 24 hours to re-up those criticisms after Clinton brought Machado up at the debate Monday night.
His inability to drop an issue Clinton left as bait reinforced the narrative that he is too thin-skinned and undisciplined to be president. It also gave Machado a prominent platform to speak against him and his campaign. It was a sharp break from recent weeks of a relatively on-message campaign.
“You need to just focus on hillary and her corruption and your policies,” Kelly Tanner commented on the post. “Forget about what she says she is trying to throw off key and it’s working. There are lots of things to hit her on. Stay focused.”
Yet with little to gain, Trump fired off another round of insults at 3 a.m. Friday.
“Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?” he tweeted, also referring to her as a “con” with a “terrible” history.
The move prompted another round of negative headlines, including one from The New York Times openly mocking him for “seething” on Twitter while the rest of the country sleeps. And it undoubtedly pleased the Clinton camp.
His insistence on spending valuable campaign time to discuss something so petty has baffled political journalists across the spectrum, in addition to some of his supporters. “Clinton might as well have erected a giant flashing neon sign declaring, ‘This is a trap!’ over Machado’s head,” MSNBC’s Alex Seitzwald wrote in a piece on how thrilled the Clinton campaign must be with the rant.
“It worked better than Clinton could possibly have imagined,” Business Insider’s Josh Barro wrote in an editorial, noting that she had consulted psychologists prior to the debate about how to get into Trump’s head. “This worked during the debate,” he added. “But more impressively, it has worked for days after the debate.”
Added The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas:
It keeps all attention off her, the Clinton Foundation, her health and other problematic topics while Trump battles with a Latino woman over something said 20 years ago.
The move is a setback for Trump following a few weeks of discipline by his standards in which speculation about Clinton’s health and her lagging polling numbers among other negative stories led the conversation.
“Your campaign wants you to study for the next debates,” Shawn Michael commented on Trump’s Facebook page, adding:
They’re right and you can clearly see that from what we’re talking about this week… real issues? No… how you treated a Miss Universe contestant. Hillary and the media are successfully making the election about you and your personal behavior. You need to keep the focus on real issues…jobs, the economy, homeland security and Hillary’s numerous professional failures that allowed good people to be killed and left our country open to hackers.
Trump showed no signs Friday of changing course, however.
“For those few people knocking me for tweeting at three o’clock in the morning, at least you know I will be there, awake, to answer the call!” He tweeted:
For those few people knocking me for tweeting at three o'clock in the morning, at least you know I will be there, awake, to answer the call!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
This report, by Rachel Stoltzfoos, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.