NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump says it was a "real problem" when the 1996 Miss Universe gained significant weight after winning the pageant he then owned.
The Republican presidential nominee was responding to Democrat Hillary Clinton's reference in their first debate to Alicia Machado's claim that Trump called her "Miss Piggy" when she gained weight. In the debate, Trump repeatedly challenged Clinton over where she had heard that, then dismissed Clinton's comment that Machado would vote for her with "OK, good."
Trump told "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday that Machado was "the worst we ever had."
Trump said, "She gained a massive amount of weight. It was a real problem. We had a real problem."
Machado went on a diet in 1997 after saying she gained at least 15 pounds. Trump said during Machado's workout in front of the media that year that "she likes to eat — like all of us" and supported her weight-loss efforts.
Clinton also said Monday night that Trump referred to the Venezuela-born Machado as "Miss Housekeeping."
Machado, who recently became a U.S. citizen, voiced the accusations of name-calling herself in a video released by the Clinton campaign following the debate.
She tweeted her thanks to Clinton after the forum, writing in Spanish, "Thanks Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Your respect for women and our differences makes you great. I'm with you."
Machado also posted a selfie of her holding a U.S. passport on Twitter along with a message, "I received my passport ! I'm ready to vote For my country for you @HillaryClinton for my daughter For women workers."
Machado appeared in June at a Virginia news conference hosted by two immigrant advocacy groups to encourage Latino voters to support Clinton.
In July, the former beauty queen lent her name in support of housekeepers. She attended a Domestics Workers Assembly in South Florida, an event organized to push for a bill of rights for domestic workers in the Florida state legislature.