Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado hits back after Donald Trump attack

Venezuelan-born actress accuses presidential candidate of demoralising women and minorities

Alicia Machado

Alicia Machado speaks during a news conference to criticise Donald Trump in June 2016 | Photo: PA Images

A former Miss Universe winner has said she will not be "bullied" or "silenced" after Donald Trump claimed she appeared in a sex tape.

The Republican presidential candidate had tweeted that Americans should watch an alleged tape of Alicia Machado who claimed he once called her "Miss Piggy".

His rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton, responded by saying Mr Trump's early-morning social media remarks were "unhinged" and "dangerous for a president".

Venezuelan-born actress Ms Machado is the focus of a high-profile row after Mrs Clinton mentioned her on this week's TV debate.

The Democratic candidate cited disparaging remarks Mr Trump had made about Ms Machado as examples of his disrespect for women.

Mrs Clinton also aired a campaign advert following the 90-minute contest using Ms Machado's experience to highlight Mr Trump's struggle to appeal to female voters.

Ms Machado said the property tycoon used the "Miss Piggy" term when she put on weight after winning the Miss Universe title in 1996.

She also said that Mr Trump, who used to own the beauty pageant, called her "Miss Housekeeping" because of her Latina heritage.

The Republican nominee has not denied either of the claims, instead saying she was "the worst" Miss Universe, and she "gained a massive amount of weight".

In his tweets on Friday, the US businessman claimed he was angry at the Clinton camp's touting of Ms Machado as an ''angel''.

And he accused them of not doing sufficient research on the former Miss Universe, saying that it was another example of Ms Clinton's bad judgement.

He tweeted: "Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con."

He went on: "Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a US citizen so she could use her in the debate?"

Mrs Clinton also tied the Trump tweets to a series of public spats with female figures that have cast a shadow over his campaign.

Prior to the controversy surrounding Ms Machado, he has called Fox reporter Megyn Kelly a bimbo, and criticised the weight of actress Rosie O'Donnell and reality TV star Kim Kardashian.

He also said of Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina that nobody would vote for "that face".

He has also made comments saying pregnancy is "bad for business" and that breastfeeding was "disgusting".

The latest average of polls by Real Clear Politics suggest Mrs Clinton has enjoyed a post-debate bounced, with the Democratic candidate at 47.3% and Donald Trump at 44.4%.