Of course all the Republicans ready to hit back at Trump are the most liberal of the party. But are they right? Did Donald Trump go too far this time?
Donald Trump’s criticism about the Muslim parents of a slain American soldier has generated — once again — a backlash within his own party.
Just 100 days from the election, Trump has responded in his standard fashion — dig in, claim he’s being treated unfairly and attack back.
But the swift condemnation of Trump’s response raises questions about whether this controversy is different from the ones that came before it.
It certainly isn’t going away – Khizr and Ghazala Khan appeared for a lengthy joint interview on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday where Khizr accused Trump of “ignorance and arrogance.”
Khan also said he’s received an outpouring of support for speaking out against the GOP presidential candidate, including from many Republicans. And he warned that Trump’s attacks on Muslims are boosting terror recruitment. Khan said it is good Muslims who are the ones who can help stop terror and make American safer.
“We are the solution to terrorism,” Khan said on CNN Monday.
Trump tweeted during the interview that the issue was not the Khans, it was stopping the spread of radical Islamic terrorism.
This time, attacks from the Republican presidential nominee on the parents of a soldier who died defending America have put new pressure on GOP leaders to decide whether they will continue to stand by him. Already, the party’s leaders in the House and the Senate have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks, and other Republican figures are attacking their nominee forcefully.
Sen. John McCain issue a very personal statement Mondaay blasting Trump’s comments about the Khans and paying homage to their son Humayun’s sacrifice. McCain noted that his son also served in the Iraq War and the McCains have been serving in the US military for hundreds of years.
“It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party,” McCain said. “While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.
“Lastly, I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We’re a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation — and he will never be forgotten.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in a statement: “This is going to a place where we’ve never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen. There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics — that you don’t do — like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier even if they criticize you.”
“If you’re going to be leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism. Mr. Trump can’t,” Graham said. “The problem is, ‘unacceptable’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”
The controversy is over Trump’s response to the Khans, whose son was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber in 2004. The Khans took the stage Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention, where Khizr Khan rejected Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States as unconstitutional, pulling a copy of the Constitution from his breast pocket and saying that Trump has “sacrificed nothing and no one.” Trump has since responded by criticizing Ghazala Khan’s silence and suggesting she wasn’t allowed to speak.
The incident recalls Trump’s attack last year on Arizona Sen. John McCain. Trump said at the time that McCain is not a war hero because he was captured and imprisoned in Vietnam. Many had speculated the criticism would spark Trump’s decline in the GOP primary race — it did not.
But there are two key differences: Trump was not yet the GOP nominee and McCain — himself the 2008 GOP standard-bearer — is a long-time public figure with experience parrying on the presidential level. The Khans are not.
This is so incredibly disrespectful of a family that endured the ultimate sacrifice for our country. https://t.co/TQcMuwXTKV
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) July 31, 2016
There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 31, 2016
Trump's slur against Captain Khan's mother is, even for him, beyond the pale. He has NO redeeming qualities.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) July 30, 2016
Trump calls Capt. Khan a ‘hero’
Responding to the backlash, Trump issued a statement Saturday praising Capt. Khan as a “hero” and saying the real problem is “radical Islamic terrorists who killed him.”
But in that statement, he again criticized the soldier’s father.
“While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things,” Trump said in the statement.
And Sunday morning, he again weighed in over Twitter.
“Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our “leaders” to eradicate it!” Trump wrote in the first of two tweets.
Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our "leaders" to eradicate it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
He followed up later by attempting to shift the focus from Khizr Khan’s criticism of his proposed Muslim ban to the Iraq war in which Khan’s son was killed.
“I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!” Trump tweeted.
I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
As Trump pushed back, first asking whether Ghazala Khan’s silence on stage was related to her faith, Khizr Khan again attacked Trump Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“He is a black soul, and this is totally unfit for the leadership of this country,” Khan said. “The love and affection that we have received affirms that our grief — that our experience in this country has been correct and positive. The world is receiving us like we have never seen. They have seen the blackness of his character, of his soul.”
On Sunday night Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, issued a statement offering praise for Humayan Khan as “an American hero.” Pence also touted the Trump campaign’s immigration plan, which would prevent newcomers from entering the US if they hail from countries “that have been compromised by terrorism.”
“Captain Khan gave his life to defend our country in the global war on terror. Due to the disastrous decisions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a once stable Middle East has now been overrun by ISIS. This must not stand,” Pence said.
“By suspending immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, rebuilding our military, defeating ISIS at its source and projecting strength on the global stage, we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family.”
Trump’s advisers attempted to move past the controversy, downplaying the direct conflict between Trump and the Khan family.
“What he’s saying is that Mr. Trump has a right to defend himself, to make clear what he’s saying is this is about Islamic terrorism, for him to be criticized like that he didn’t think was fair,” Trump aide Jason Miller told CNN’s Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.