Bill Clinton and Tim Kaine Take Trump to Task for Remarks on Slain Muslim Soldier's Mother

Republican candidate singled out Ghazala Khan's silence during her husband's speech at the Democratic Convention. 'He was kind of trying to turn that into some kind of ridicule,' Kaine says.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton celebrates on stage with husband Bill and running mate Tim Kaine on final night of the Democratic National Convention.
Saul Loeb, AFP

Hillary Clinton's top surrogates are taking aim at rival Donald Trump for criticizing the bereaved mother of a Muslim Army captain, a comment that sparked outrage across the political spectrum on Saturday.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine expressed shock that the GOP nominee would attack Ghazala Khan for not speaking during her husband's address to the Democratic convention.

"He was kind of trying to turn that into some kind of ridicule," Kaine said after a campaign event in Pittsburgh. "It just demonstrates again kind of a temperamental unfitness. If you don't have any more sense of empathy than that, then I'm not sure you can learn it."

Former President Bill Clinton, who joined his wife and Kaine at the event, agreed: "I cannot conceive how you can say that about a Gold Star mother."

Lawyer Khizr Khan gave a moving tribute to their son, Humayun, who received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004. During the speech, Khan's wife, Ghazala, stood silently by his side, wearing a headscarf.

"If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me," Trump said, in an interview with ABC's "This Week."

Ghazala Khan has said she didn't speak because she's still overwhelmed by her grief and can't even look at photos of her son without crying.

Trump also disputed Khan's criticism that the billionaire businessman has "sacrificed nothing and no one" for his country.

"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, built great structures," Trump said. He added: "Sure those are sacrifices."

Trump's comments sparked immediate outrage on social media, including from Republicans, who criticized Trump both for attacking a mourning mother and because many considered them racist and anti-Muslim.

In a statement that made no mention of Trump, Hillary Clinton said she was "very moved" by Ghazala Khan's appearance.

"This is a time for all Americans to stand with the Khans and with all the families whose children have died in service to our country," she said. "Capt. Khan and his family represent the best of America and we salute them."

Trump's comments about Khan came a day after he criticized retired four-star Gen. John Allen and slammed a Colorado Springs, Colorado, fire marshal for capping attendance at the event. The fire marshal, Brett Lacey, was recently honored by the city as "Civilian of the Year" for his role in helping the wounded at a 2015 mass shooting at a local Planned Parenthood.

"Our commander in chief shouldn't insult and deride our generals, retired or otherwise," Clinton told a crowd gathered Saturday on a factory floor in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. "That should really go without saying."