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McCain Rebukes Trump for Comments About Soldier’s Family

Other GOP leaders condemn presidential nominee, but not by name

Arizona Sen. John McCain says that Donald Trump's remarks on the family of a fallen American soldier do not represent the views of the Republican Party. (Daniel A. Anderson for CQ Roll Call)
Arizona Sen. John McCain says that Donald Trump's remarks on the family of a fallen American soldier do not represent the views of the Republican Party. (Daniel A. Anderson for CQ Roll Call)

Arizona Sen. John McCain blasted Donald Trump for his attacks on the family members of an American solider killed in Iraq in 2004 who have feuded with the Republican presidential nominee since the father’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.   

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service,” McCain said in a statement Monday. “I cannot emphasize 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.”  

Capt. Humayun Khan was 27 when he was killed by a car bomb in 2004 while serving in Iraq. His father Khizr Khan spoke forcefully at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia on Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims. Khan even took out his copy of the Constitution, asked if Trump had read it and said he would lend him his copy.   

The two top Republican congressional leaders both released statements praising the Khan family, and condemning calls for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. But both stopped short of criticizing Trump.  

“As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it,”  House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said in a statement . “Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Capt. Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”  

“Capt. Khan was an American hero, and like all Americans I’m grateful for the sacrifices that selfless young men like Capt. Khan and their families have made in the war on terror,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in his statement . “And as I have long made clear, I agree with the Khans and families across the country that a travel ban on all members of a religion is simply contrary to American values.”  

In response to Khizr Khan’s convention speech, Trump implied that Khan’s wife Ghazala, who stood beside her husband onstage, was not permitted to speak.   

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” he told ABC News over the weekend. “She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”  

Ghazala Khan responded in an op-ed in The Washington Post  Sunday and explained that she was doing her best to maintain her composure after her son’s picture was shown just before the Khans took the podium.  

“Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. 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,” Khan wrote.  

Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona’s junior senator who has been critical of Trump’s rhetoric, seconded McCain’s statement.

McCain has said in the past that Republican leaders should support the will of the Republican primary voters.  

“You have to listen to people that have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party,” McCain said in an inteview back in May. “I think it would be foolish to ignore them.”  

Back in 2015, Trump said that McCain was not a war hero because he was captured. McCain did think Trump should apoligze for those comments, but not to him.  

“I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country,” McCain said on “Morning Joe” in July 2015.  

McCain’s primary opponent used the controversary as a way to condemn McCain without opining on Trump’s words.  

“The Khan controversy is a cynical political stunt cooked up by the Clinton Establishment, and, sadly, John McCain has fallen right into it,” former Arizona State Sen. Dr. Kelli Ward said in a news release on Monday. “McCain’s statement today makes clear that he really wants Hillary Clinton in the White House, and his tepid ‘support’ for Trump is only disingenuous pandering.”  

The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the Arizona Senate race Favored Republican.

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