Newt Gingrich: Let's face it, you're not supposed to gain 60 lbs when you're Miss Universe

He’s 100 percent right, but what does he gain by being right about this?

Speaking to the Log Cabin Republicans at a dinner in Washington, Gingrich echoed Trump’s attacks, eliciting laughter from the room.

“You’re not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that you’re Miss Universe,” he said. “Not fair. Even my act of saying that is sexist and proves I’m not being sensitive.”…

Gingrich … came under fire from Clinton’s campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri, who tweeted: “I am sorry, I can’t get past this. Newt Gingrich is criticizing someone for their weight.”

He brought up Alicia Machado and Trump’s pageant tussle over her weight no fewer than three times yesterday, once at the Log Cabin dinner, once on Hannity’s show last night, and then again in a Facebook video in which he went on about it for nearly 30 minutes. (Trump himself spent a few minutes talking about the old business with Machado on O’Reilly last night.) Watch the Facebook thing if you can spare the time, as Gingrich is spot on about the media’s collusion in Clinton’s ploy. She meticulously set a trap, with a campaign ad and various newspaper interviews with Machado already in the can before her name was mentioned at the debate, and then sprang it. (I’m going to guess that this story, about Trump demanding good-looking women employees at his golf course, was also teed up before the debate to amplify the Machado play.) The Clinton camp wanted to spend the week talking about this, partly in order to motivate women and Latinos to turn out against Trump and partly to keep Trump from focusing on issues that hurt her, and the old pro Newt is wise to all of that — and yet here he is talking about it anyway, handing the pro-Clinton press a peg for more Machado coverage.

I don’t get it. Trump and his surrogates should be answering questions about Machado by getting indignant and demanding to know why the media cares more about this garbage than about the number of unemployed or the fact that Iraq is on the brink of another sectarian bloodbath as ISIS disintegrates. If you simply must engage on it, at least challenge Clinton for patronizing women by assuming that they’d rather revisit old beauty-pageant squabbles instead of talk about America’s big problems 50 days out from a national election. I can understand Trump walking into this doorknob because he can’t resist retaliating against his critics but Gingrich is supposed to be a big-picture guy. He even says in the Hannity interview, correctly I think, that the Clintons’ chances of winning improve when they’re talking about Trump’s character and decline when they’re talking about the issues. And yet here he is pontificating about Machado, which goes directly to Trump’s character. Baffling. Says Steve Deace, “when you have two overweight white guys in their 70s with six wives between them fat shaming women, you’ve pretty much played into every liberal stereotype of conservatives ever.”

But maybe we’re being unfair in assuming that Newt wants to talk about this. Maybe the orders came down from on high that he has to talk about this.

Remember back in early June when Trump was busy shooting himself in the foot over Judge Curiel? Some of his surrogates wisely thought he’d be better off dropping the subject. Instead, Trump reportedly ordered them on a conference call to back him up, going so far as to overrule a memo that his own campaign had circulated encouraging his allies to duck the topic in interviews going forward. Maybe the word went out this week along the same lines that he’s not going to let Clinton cow him into silence about Machado and that he doesn’t want his surrogates looking cowed either. That’s the best I can do to explain why a former Speaker of the House turned presidential candidate turned VP shortlister would decide to start musing publicly about how fat is too fat for a beauty queen. And even then, if Newt really has no choice but to talk about Machado, wouldn’t he be better off focusing on the whole “murder accomplice/judge threatener” part of her past to try to destroy her credibility?

The more hits Trump takes over Machado, the more likely it is that he’s going to lash out at the next debate and attack Hillary over Monica Lewinsky and Juanita Broaddrick. Republicans are urging him not to do that, but I don’t think Trump can bear to hold fire in a debate about sexism when he has ammo like that. The curious thing is that Hillary must have expected that he’d react that way when she set the trap involving Machado, which means that she thinks she’s going to win an exchange with Trump over Bill’s misbehavior too. Monica et al. could be a secondary trap here, in other words, set because Hillary thinks the subject will make her seem sympathetic. That’s possible, but not necessarily true: The argument against Hillary is that she’s a phony feminist in having worked behind the scenes to destroy the credibility of women who accused her husband of indiscretions, harassment, and even rape. Maybe Clinton thinks she can use all of that to turn the focus back onto Trump’s own private life? I don’t know. Bill’s misdeeds are a fraught topic for both sides.

Here’s Megyn Kelly springboarding off of the Machado news to revisit her famous debate question to Trump about women.

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