Republicans denounce Trump as feud with slain U.S. Muslim soldier’s parents escalates
Donald Trump faced mounting criticism from leaders of his own party on Sunday as a confrontation between the Republican nominee and the Muslim American parents of a soldier killed in Iraq continued to consume the presidential race.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan denounced Trump in ever more forceful terms, asserting that Trump’s temperament and lack of empathy rendered him unfit for office, while Trump claimed that Khizr Khan “viciously attacked” him while speaking at the Democratic National Convention last week.
Khizr Khan also repeated his call for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to repudiate Trump, saying they have a moral obligation to speak out against their party’s standard-bearer.
In separate statements, Ryan and McConnell expressed support for the Khans and reiterated their opposition to Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, but neither mentioned Trump by name and neither abandoned his support for the Republican nominee, the Washington Post said.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) had no such buffer. In a strongly worded statement yesterday, chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee took direct aim at Trump.
“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents,” wrote McCain. “He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States – to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasise enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”
The clash between the Khans and Trump has largely taken over the presidential race following both major party conventions and with 99 days before Election Day.
Whether the fight with the Khans will ultimately hurt Trump among voters remains an open question. Some of Trump’s more controversial remarks, such as his attacks on a disabled reporter and a U.S.-born judge of Mexican descent, seem to have initially registered only to fade somewhat quickly.
For instance, Trump was roughly tied with Democrat Hillary Clinton in an average of polls before his saying that Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage made him unfit to rule in a lawsuit involving Trump. In the ensuing weeks, Trump fell behind Clinton by a few points, but he regained his standing not long afterward.
It’s also possible that the controversy could help Trump, at least among those considering supporting him, if voters begin to see it as another example of elite-driven political correctness by the media and political establishment.
On Sunday, Khizr Khan said Trump disrespected his wife by insinuating that she wasn’t allowed to speak at the convention because of the family’s Muslim faith, and he called on Republican leaders and voters to reject the GOP nominee.
“I implore those patriotic Americans that would probably vote for Donald Trump in November, I appeal to them, not to vote for hatred, not to vote for fear-mongering,” Khan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, Ghazala Khan directly responded to Trump, saying that she was too distraught to speak at the convention and could barely control her emotions while walking on stage.
“Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart,” she wrote, using a term for the parents of fallen members of the military.
Trump and his campaign, meanwhile, sought to redirect the focus to the origins of the Iraq War and fears about Islamic terrorism.
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