Trump has said regularly on the campaign trail that Clinton does not look presidential, which his critics have blasted as a sexist attack on the first female presidential nominee for a major political party.
When Muir pressed Trump on whether his comments were about her physical “aesthetic,” Trump shrugged — suggesting his disapproval with the question — before knocking Clinton for her attacks on him.
“I’m talking about — hey, by the way, she says things about me that are horrible. As an example, the single greatest asset I have, according to those that know me, is my temperament,” he told Muir. “But she came up with this Madison Avenue line, ‘Oh, let’s talk about his temperament.’ It’s the single greatest asset I have is my temperament.”
The Clinton campaign fired back, tying Trump’s comments to previous controversial remarks about women and minorities. The campaign mentioned his feud with a Muslim American Gold Star family and his attacks on a Hispanic federal judge overseeing a pair of cases against Trump University whose ethnicity Trump said made him incapable of treating the cases fairly.
“This isn’t the first time Donald Trump has had a problem looking at someone different from himself and actually seeing them,” Clinton spokeswoman Christina Reynolds said in a statement. “He looked at an accomplished anchor and suggested she was a ‘bimbo.’ And he looked at a sitting president and said he wasn’t American. So it’s not surprising that Donald Trump doesn’t think Hillary Clinton looks presidential. This cycle, voters know all too well what’s not presidential: Donald Trump and his narrow views and divisive rhetoric.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, also weighed in and called the attacks sexist.
"Donald Trump can't see a woman as presidential, but he can see us as ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs,’ " said NARAL communications director Kaylie Hanson Long. "He's spent his entire life confining women to a scale of one to ten, and the policies he supports that limit our reproductive freedom would confine us to only the few roles he finds appropriate for women.”
By Tuesday night, Clinton's campaign was seeking to raise money off Trump's comments.
“Luckily for all of us, a presidential campaign isn't one of Trump’s beauty pageants,” a Clinton aide said in an online fundraising solicitation. “His judgment counts for very little on most things, and even less when the subject is who looks ‘presidential.’”
Trump has at times owned or co-owned multiple beauty pageants, including the Miss Universe competition.
John Wagner contributed to this report.