The Playbook: A history of attacks on Miss Con’gin

“I think the strategy of Donald Trump running on being a heroic hero or a great president or a great visionary, he will fail. He has utterly failed,” Senator Kamala Harris of California said.

Mississippi Republican congressman Greg Gianforte was arrested on Thursday after reportedly body-slamming a reporter at a congressional campaign event earlier this month, setting off a series of right-wing and left-wing conspiracy theories about nefarious Democratic operatives. It has also brought renewed attention to the president’s struggles to take criticism in stride as he continues to call out detractors, from the “fake news” to the previous survivor of Miss Con’gin, Alicia Machado.

In addition to waiting out the investigation into her death, there was an additional discovery after the murder: the cocaine that prosecutors say Mr. Gianforte’s campaign manager, Lane Hudson, and their accuser initially told investigators the GOP candidate had taken was, in fact, a small amount.

Trump frequently makes exaggerated claims about economic growth and surging employment, and some argue that if he had a failure on his belt, it would be his response to the Montana killing. Still, there’s the feeling that he will bounce back, an analysis that Mrs. Harris points to as one of her reasons to oppose it.

“With Donald Trump, there’s so much hypocrisy in the messaging. The events that occurred down there where a businessman-turned-congressman body-slammed a journalist are actually indicative of something that Trump does all the time: he uses events that happen all over the country, and even from the congressman down there, to try to distract attention away from what’s really going on in the country and try to divert attention to the president and the events around him,” she said.

There have been various missteps in Mr. Trump’s response to the Montana death. Not only was it largely unhelpful to the family of Mr. Lang, the journalist who was murdered, his promise of a commission into the killing added to a list of missteps that set off a slew of conspiracy theories about his administration’s other alleged scandals, some of which were this past week circulating over the former Miss Venezuela’s new beauty pageant in Miss Con’gin, and last week in Miss America. Mr. Trump caused a wave of outrage on both sides of the aisle after proclaiming pageant winner Machado “Miss Piggy” and claims that she was a “disgusting” beauty queen.

It also meant that there was renewed pushback on the Republican National Committee’s use of Ms. Machado as a “human prop,” in the form of a Democratic Super PAC ad linking Mr. Gianforte to Republican policies that affected immigrants like Ms. Machado.

The focus on Ms. Machado has brought renewed attention to Mr. Trump’s time in Miss Con’gin, when he appeared to bring women up on stage to show his hand. Ms. Machado told the Times that she noticed Mr. Trump’s hand “kept resting between my legs.”

He has not been shy about criticizing anyone who brings up this chapter of his life, from President Obama, who Ms. Machado said was the first to criticize her, to Barbara Kopple, the director of Miss Con’gin’s competition.

“It was offensiveness. It was cruelty, it was malice, it was worse than that,” Ms. Kopple told the Times. “You know the people who criticize me for making a human sacrifice, making a human sacrifice on the altar of beauty pageants? Donald Trump.”

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