Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence says he and presidential candidate Donald Trump believe a Muslim American soldier killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004 is a hero and families like his «should be cherished by every American.»
The statement late Sunday followed intense criticism of Trump’s reaction to an appearance by U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan’s parents at last week’s Democratic National Convention. Khan was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004.
Pence moved quickly in the statement to bashing President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for «disastrous decisions» that he said allowed Islamic State to overrun «a once stable Middle East.»
Pence and Clinton voted in 2002 to authorize the Iraq War while members of Congress. Obama was an Illinois state senator at that time.
The Pence statement said Trump’s plans to bar immigrants from countries «compromised by terrorism,» rebuilding the U.S. military and defeating Islamic State will prevent other American families from going through the same thing as the Khans.
‘Totaly unfit’ for leadership
The soldier’s father, Khizr Khan, described Trump Sunday as «totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country.» The Pakistani immigrant said Trump has a «black soul.»
Khan spoke at last week’s Democratic National Convention, joined on stage by his wife, saying Trump disrespects Muslims and other minorities, as well as women, judges and Republican leaders. He questioned if Trump had ever read the U.S. Constitution and said the businessman has sacrificed nothing.
Trump responded to the comments Sunday in an interview on ABC News.
«I think I have made a lot of sacrifices,» Trump said. «I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve done — I’ve had tremendous success.»
The soldier’s mother, Ghazala Khan, did not speak during the convention appearance and later wrote that she was unable to, «Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain.»
When asked Sunday about the speech, Trump questioned why Ghazala Khan stood by her husband and did not speak.
«She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say,» he said.
Trump said further on Twitter he was «viciously attacked» by the Khans and that the real issue is Islamic terrorism and «the weakness of our ‘leaders’ to eradicate it!»
In their own statements Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned criticism of Muslim Americans who serve their country and rejected proposals to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Neither statement mentioned Trump by name.
Clinton on Trump
Also Sunday Clinton accused Trump of «absolute allegiance» to Russian policy goals, even as he suggested that if elected he might be willing to accept Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
In separate interviews on news shows, the two candidates sparred over how the U.S. should deal with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, said on «Fox News Sunday» that Trump’s views about Russia raised «national security issues» and questions about his temperament as the would-be American commander in chief.
She said that «Russian intelligence services hacked into» computers at the Democratic Party national headquarters in Washington, claiming that they «arranged for a lot of those emails to be released» by WikiLeaks that showed party leaders favored her over her challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, in the months-long campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Russia has denied involvement in the hacking of the DNC computers and Russia’s foreign ministry called the suggestions insulting in a statement quoted by the Interfax news agency.
Trump has also accused Clinton and the Democrats of trying to «rig» the three planned presidential debates scheduled to begin in late September because two of them are at the same time as an American football game that could attract bigger television audiences.
Trump initially told ABC that the National Football League sent him a letter complaining about the schedule, but after the NFL denied doing so, a Trump aide said the candidate heard of the conflict from «a source close to the league.»
The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates released the debate schedule in September 2015. The commission noted in a statement that it is impossible to avoid all sporting events. At that time of year there is a game in one of the country’s major sports leagues every night.
Trump holds campaign rallies Monday in two cities Clinton just visited — Columbus and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Clinton will be in Omaha, Nebraska and Boulder, Colorado.