All weekend, Donald Trump has been flapping his circus-peanut lips about how Khizr Khan “viciously attacked him” at the DNC and how Khizr wouldn’t let his grieving wife talk, and then he tried to change the subject and tie the parents of war heroes to terrorism.
I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
The backlash has been swift and unmerciful, and for once, Donald Trump has committed a gaffe that most of the American public has decided not to ignore. Now, even some of Trump’s fellow Republicans — some of them facing pressure from their own upcoming elections — have distanced themselves from Trump’s comments. Both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan weighed in, praising the Khan family and reaffirming their own opposition to the proposed Muslim travel ban, although neither one of them would mention Donald Trump in their statements.
One of the least cute things about 2016 is Paul Ryan trying so hard to wash his hands of moral responsibility for Trump while backing him.— Josh Barro (@jbarro) August 1, 2016
Meanwhile, other leading Republicans have also weighed in, like Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (note that Trump needs Florida and Ohio to have a chance at winning in November):
There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family.— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 31, 2016
This is so incredibly disrespectful of a family that endured the ultimate sacrifice for our country. https://t.co/TQcMuwXTKV— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) July 31, 2016
The one person who had remained quiet throughout the weekend was Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, who has a son in the Marines and almost assuredly would have spoken out against Trump’s statements if not for the fact that he’s the poor, put-upon VP candidate. Throughout the weekend, this was all that had really come out of the Pence camp:
He finally released a cynical statement last night to Facebook:
Donald Trump and I believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American.
Captain Khan gave his life to defend our country in the global war on terror. Due to the disastrous decisions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a once stable Middle East has now been overrun by ISIS. This must not stand.
By suspending immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, rebuilding our military, defeating ISIS at its source and projecting strength on the global stage, we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family.
Donald Trump will support our military and their families and we will defeat the enemies of our freedom.
- Governor Mike Pence
Mike Pence completely ignores his running mate’s comments over the last two days, and like Trump’s bumbling communications director, attempts to reframe the issue as one about terrorism.
He then basically blamed Obama and Hillary for the death of Captain Khan, only there’s one problem with that: Captain Khan died in 2004, four years before Obama took office. Hillary was not yet Secretary of State, and while she did vote to authorize George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq (reluctantly), so did Mike Pence.
This is just the latest awkwardness for Pence, who called out Obama on Friday for calling Trump a “homegrown demagogue,” saying in a radio show interview, “I don’t think name-calling has any place in public life.”.
"Agree."— Brian Byrd (@BrianByrdman) July 29, 2016
Lying Ted Cruz
Low Energy Jeb
But don’t feel sorry for Mike Pence. After all, he stated three days ago that, should he and Trump win, “We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” Ironic given that Trump’s campaign will be the literal ash heap of history 20 years from now.