I was right to call beauty queen fat - Donald Trump

(Twitter / @NYMag)
(Twitter / @NYMag)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has defended himself after it was revealed he called the winner of a beauty pageant 'Miss Piggy' when she put on weight following her victory.

His Democrat counterpart Hillary Clinton attacked Mr Trump over the remark during the first presidential debate between the pair ahead of November's election.

In the debate, Ms Clinton brought up previous comments whereby Mr Trump had referred to women as "pigs, slobs and dogs", before explaining what he'd said about 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado.

I was right to call beauty queen fat - Donald Trump

Donald Trump and Alicia Machado (Reuters)

"One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest - he loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them," she said, referring to his time as the pageant's executive producer.

"And he called this woman 'Miss Piggy'. Then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping', because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado.

"And she has become a US citizen and you can bet she is going to vote this November."

In 1997, Mr Trump sent Ms Machado to a personal trainer to help her shed the weight she had put on following her win the previous year.

Ms Clinton posted a video on her Twitter account of Ms Machado explaining Mr Trump's comments, prompting a response from the former business mogul.

Speaking to Fox News, Mr Trump stood by his remarks on Ms Machado.

"She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem," he said.

"Not only that - her attitude, and we had a real problem with her."

Mr Trump has also moved to explain his far from impressive performance in the debate, saying NBC News journalist Lester Holt, who moderated the debate, asked him "unfair questions".

He also suggested that his microphone was tampered with, telling media that it was "defective".

Ms Clinton responded by saying that "anybody who complains about the microphone is not having a good night".