‘I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement.’
via Flickr users (cc) Gage Skidmore and NH Public Radio
Just over a year ago, while Donald Trump was running for the GOP presidential nomination, he made an unavailable statement about Arizona Senator and former prisoner of war John McCain, saying, “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at a forum in Iowa. “He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?” While Trump’s remarks drew harsh criticism from the rest of the GOP field, McCain was dismissive of the comment. “The best thing to do is to put it behind us and move forward, and express our gratitude to those who served and sacrificed,” Sen. John McCain said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Who are the real heroes? The 55,000 [people who died in Vietnam].”
Throughout Trump’s campaign to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, McCain has held tepid support for the candidate saying, “You have to listen to people who have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party,” McCain told CNN. “I think it would be foolish to ignore them.” But today, McCain hit Trump hard with a long rebuke over an ongoing feud the candidate has had with the parents of fallen Muslim army Captain Humayun Khan. “In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers or candidates.”
Last week, during the Democratic National Convention, Khan’s father, Khizr gave an emotional speech condemning Trump’s proposed ban on allowing Muslim immigrants into the U.S. With his wife, Ghazala, by his side, Khan asked Trump, “Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America -- you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” Trump’s shocking response was to criticize Ghazala for standing in silent support of her husband’s impassioned speech and to say that he has made sacrifices as well. “I think I 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.”
Trump’s response to the Khans’ statements and sacrifices has drawn criticism from both Democratic and Republican circles. But given McCain’s history as a presidential nominee, prisoner of war, and respected figure on national security, his statements carry a special significance. They may give other prominent Republicans an excuse to back away from their candidate while providing Trump with a larger shovel to continue digging himself into a deeper hole.
Here’s McCain’s full statement:
The Republican Party I know and love is the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.
I wear a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen hero, Matthew Stanley, which his mother, Lynn, gave me in 2007, at a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. His memory and the memory of our great leaders deserve better from me.
In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier's parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump's statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.
Make no mistake: I do not valorize our military out of some unfamiliar instinct. I grew up in a military family, and have my own record of service, and have stayed closely engaged with our armed forces throughout my public career. In the American system, the military has value only inasmuch as it protects and defends the liberties of the people.
My father was a career naval officer, as was his father. For hundreds of years, every generation of McCains has served the United States in uniform.
My sons serve today, and I'm proud of them. My youngest served in the war that claimed Captain Khan's life as well as in Afghanistan. I want them to be proud of me. I want to do the right thing by them and their comrades.
Humayun Khan did exactly that — and he did it for all the right reasons. This accomplished young man was not driven to service as a United States Army officer because he was compelled to by any material need. He was inspired as a young man by his reading of Thomas Jefferson — and he wanted to give back to the country that had taken him and his parents in as immigrants when he was only two years old.
Captain Khan’s death in Iraq, on June 8th, 2004, was a shining example of the valor and bravery inculcated into our military. When a suicide bomber accelerated his vehicle toward a facility with hundreds of American soldiers, Captain Khan ordered his subordinates away from the danger.
Then he ran toward it.
The suicide bomber, striking prematurely, claimed the life of Captain Khan — and Captain Khan, through his selfless action and sacrifice, saved the lives of hundreds of his brothers and sisters.
Scripture tells us that ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’
Captain Humayun Khan of the United States Army showed in his final moments that he was filled and motivated by this love. His name will live forever in American memory, as an example of true American greatness.
In the end, I am morally bound to speak only to the things that command my allegiance, and to which I have dedicated my life's work: the Republican Party, and more importantly, the United States of America. I will not refrain from doing my utmost by those lights simply because it may benefit others with whom I disagree.
I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.
Arizona is watching. It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party. While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.
Lastly, I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We're a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation – and he will never be forgotten.