US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top surrogates are taking aim at rival US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for criticizing the bereaved mother of a Muslim US Army captain, a comment that sparked outrage across the political spectrum on Saturday.
US Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine expressed shock that the US Republican nominee would attack Ghazala Khan for not speaking during her husband’s address to the US Democratic convention.
“He was kind of trying to turn that into some kind of ridicule,” Kaine said after a campaign event in Pittsburgh. “It just demonstrates again kind of a temperamental unfitness. If you don’t have any more sense of empathy than that, then I’m not sure you can learn it.”
Former US president Bill Clinton, who joined his wife and Kaine at the event, agreed: “I cannot conceive how you can say that about a Gold Star mother.”
Lawyer Khizr Khan gave a moving tribute to their son, Humayun, who received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004.
During the speech, Khan’s wife, Ghazala, stood silently by his side, wearing a headscarf.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me,” Trump said, in an interview with ABC’s This Week.
Ghazala Khan has said she did not speak because she is still overwhelmed by her grief and cannot even look at photographs of her son without crying.
Trump also disputed Khan’s criticism that the billionaire businessman has “sacrificed nothing and no one” for his country.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures,” Trump said.
He added: “Sure those are sacrifices.”
Late on Saturday night, Trump released a statement calling Humayun Khan “a hero,” disputing Khizr Khan’s characterization and attacking Clinton as unqualified to serve as commander in chief.
“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. “If I become president, I will make America safe again.”
Trump’s comments sparked immediate outrage on social media, including from US Republicans, who criticized Trump both for attacking a mourning mother and because many considered them racist and anti-Muslim.
Clinton told voters gathered in a Youngstown gymnasium late on Saturday: “Donald Trump is not a normal presidential candidate. Somebody who attacks everybody has something missing.”
“He attacked the distinguished father of a soldier who sacrificed himself for his unit, Captain Khan,” she said. “I think it is fair to say he is temperamentally unfit and unqualified.”
Trump’s comments about Khan came a day after he criticized retired four-star general John Allen and slammed a Colorado Springs, fire marshal for capping attendance at the event.
The fire marshal, Brett Lacey, was recently honored by the city as “Civilian of the Year” for his role in helping the wounded at a mass shooting at a local Planned Parenthood last year.
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