Khizr Khan campaigns for Clinton, attacks Trump

Khizr Khan campaigns for Clinton, attacks Trump
October 27 09:24 2016

With less than two weeks before the general election, Hillary Clinton’s campaign deployed one of its most potent weapons in the fight against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump: Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim war hero killed in the line of duty.

Khan, a Gold Star father whose impassioned speech on the final night of the Democratic national convention helped knock Trump down to his current flailing position in the presidential race, spoke on Clinton’s behalf to congregants and guests of a mosque in Norfolk, Virginia, home to the world’s largest naval base and more than 60,000 active duty military personnel.

“The courage [to speak against Trump] wasn’t ours,” Khan said at Masjid William Salaam, the first of three stops in Norfolk that Khan made on Wednesday. “The courage was given to us.

“People ask would I do it again,” Khan continued. “A million times – again and again and again – up until hatred and political bigotry is wiped out of this United States, we will continue to speak.”

Khan’s son, Marine Cpt Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 by a car bomb after instructing the soldiers under his command to fall back from the vehicle. Khan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, and is buried in nearby Arlington national cemetery.

With his wife, Ghazala Khan, standing beside him, Khan excoriated Trump in a self-written speech at the DNC in June, describing his family as “patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country” whose son would have never been able to serve his country had Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US been in place.

“If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” Khan said at the time. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.”

After the speech – in which Khan emotionally declared that Trump had “sacrificed nothing and no one” and questioned whether he had even read the US constitution – Trump launched a prolonged public feud against the Khan family, implying that the speech had been crafted by Clinton campaign operatives and that Ghazala Khan was “not allowed” to speak because of her Muslim faith.

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Ghazala Khan explained that she still finds it too painful to speak about her son in public.

Asked about Khan’s visit to Norfolk and whether he owes the Khans an apology, Trump told ABC News on Wednesday that “If I were president at that time, Capt Khan would be alive today, because I wouldn’t have been in Iraq.”

George Stephanopoulos, who was interviewing Trump, replied that Trump did, in fact, support the war in Iraq before it began.

“Look, look, let’s get it straight: I was opposed to the war in Iraq,” Trump countered. “If you look at just before the war started, I said, ‘Don’t do it, it’s a mistake, you’re gonna destabilize the Middle East.’ From the beginning, I was opposed to the war in Iraq.”

Trump’s record on the matter has been exhaustively fact-checked. In an interview in 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, radio host Howard Stern asked Trump: “Are you for invading Iraq?”

Trump answered, “Yeah, I guess so.”

Asked to respond to Trump’s assertion by ABC News, Khan called Trump’s comments “the most cruel thing you can say”.

“There’s no sincerity in those remarks,” Khan said. “He utters these words totally oblivious to the understanding of where we are, where we stand, what our values are, and how to be empathetic. There is one character that a leader must have to be the leader of a great country, to be the leader of the armed forces of the United States: empathy.”

“And he totally lacks that.”

After Trump was roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans for his reaction to Khan’s speech – including an explicit disavowal of his candidacy by Maine senator Susan Collins – the Khans withdrew from campaign appearances, telling CNN that they found the experiences too draining.

But with the release of a new TV advertisement on Clinton’s behalf, in which Khan asks Trump “would my son have a place in your America?”, and Wednesday’s series of appearances, the Khans are making a late re-entry into the race. For Trump, whose struggling campaign scheduled appearances at his hotel opening in Washington DC and in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, that could spell trouble so close to election day.

Guardian UK