Trump and the Khans

Row with family whose son died in Iraq conflict has highlighted how Republican presidential nominee is far from core of his party.

Khizr Khan challenges Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to read his copy of the U.S. Constitution at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Khizr Khan accused Trump of never having read the constitution [Reuters]

This weekend was a bad one for Donald Trump. One he will want to forget and one the Democrats will be hoping to keep fresh in everyone’s memory.

And it highlighted how far the Republican presidential nominee actually is from the core of his party.

First there was the row over the presidential debates. Trump accused the Democrats of trying to fix the timing. The dates are set by a bi-partisan commission around a year in advance.

When it was pointed out that the Clinton campaign had nothing to do with the dates, Trump said he had received a letter from the National Football League saying it was ridiculous the debates would clash with two televised games.

The NFL issued a statement saying it had sent no letter.

Then there was Crimea. In a Sunday morning TV interview, Trump suggested if he was President he might recognise Russian claims to the land and end sanctions against Vladimir Putin.

This is one of Trump’s answers on the Crimea issue: “He’s [Putin] not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”

The interviewer then pointed out that Putin was already in Ukraine, Trump scrambled: “OK well he’s there in a certain way” and then he laid the blame for the situation with President Obama’s weakness.

The first answer is startling. The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 was condemned by the US and its allies and brought sanctions against the Russians.

It does, however, suggest the Republican presidential nominee may not understand some geopolitical realities as he challenges for the role of “leader of the free world”.

And yet both of those rows were not the biggest flashpoint of the weekend.

That came in Trump’s reaction to a speech at the Democratic Convention.

READ MORE: Trump slated over ‘insult’ to dead soldier’s parents

Khizr Khan spoke about the loss of his son in Iraq. A Muslim and a US army captain, he had been recognised for his bravery defending the soldiers he was with.

As he spoke, his wife Ghazala stood by his side. He accused Trump of never having read the US constitution and told him “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

Again in that Sunday TV interview Trump was asked what sacrifices he has made for his country. He responded: “I think 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.” Asked if those were really sacrifices, Trump replied : “Oh, sure. I think they’re sacrifices.”

Trump also implied that Mrs Khan had been forbidden to speak because of her religion. In reality, she says she cannot speak about her son without bursting into tears.

On Twitter Trump insisted Mr Khan had “no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the constitution”. Twitter users immediately pointed out that the Constitution literally enshrines that right.

Trump’s comments brought predictable condemnation from the Democrats. But many Republicans also felt he crossed a line. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, insisted the Khans, for their sacrifice, should be treated with honour and respect. Kelly Ayotte, the New Hampshire senator, said she was appalled Trump had the “gall” to compare his own sacrifices to those of the Khans.

Senior figures in the Republican leadership issued statements praising Captain Khan. And, while never mentioning Trump, they condemned his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.

The conventions tend to mark a surge in interest in the presidential race. Trump has made controversial comments in the past and suffered no real problems in the polls.

This time, more people were watching. And paying attention.

Source: Al Jazeera