Illinois politicians reacted to incendiary comments Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made about the parents of late U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who took the stage at the Democratic National Convention to criticize the candidate's proposed ban on Muslim immigration.
Capt. Khan was awarded both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star posthumously after he was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.
Khan’s father, Khizr Khan, spoke at the convention, condemning Trump’s proposed policies. His wife, Ghazala Khan, joined him on stage but chose not to speak, saying she was nervous.
In an interview that aired Sunday, Trump said maybe Ghazala wasn’t “allowed” to speak.
Politicians came to the defense of the Gold Star family after Trump’s comments.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, a former Navy reservist, issued a statement Monday invoking Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and slamming Trump.
“In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln honored the fallen Union soldiers who gave their ‘last full measure’ for freedom,” Kirk said. “There is no doubt Cpt. Khan also gave his last full measure for this country and our freedom and security. The Khan family should be honored — not attacked."
“To Mr. Trump, I would simply say hands off Gold Star families,” Kirk added.
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran, also issued a statement praising military members and their sacrifices without mentioning Trump by name.
“No one can truly understand the sacrifice a family makes when their loved one serves their country or the heartbreak of losing a loved one,” Kinzinger said Monday. “There’s no greater love than a man who lays down his life for his friends. As a military man myself, I have deep respect for the sacrifices made by anyone who is willing to defend the Constitution.”
“Comments disparaging our service men and women, and their families, are deeply disturbing and wholly unpatriotic,” Kinzinger said.
Democrats also rebuked Trump’s comments. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost her legs piloting a helicopter over Iraq, called Trump “intolerant and unfit to be commander in chief.”
“With his despicable attacks on a Gold Star family, we now know he is a cruel and cowardly man, as well,” Duckworth said Monday. “My heart breaks for the Khan family. Their service and sacrifice are more than most Americans will know, and for that, they should receive nothing but our gratitude. They certainly have mine.”
Additionally, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin wrote a letter to supporters Monday criticizing Trump’s statements and claiming the candidate “has sunk to an unimaginable depth with his vile words."
“Sadly, it came as no surprise that Trump attacked the Khan family,” Durbin wrote. “This American Gold Star family joined a litany of Trump targets: John McCain, America’s military, the disabled, women, a Hispanic judge, Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and many, many more. Yet despite his loathsome words and bottom-feeder politics, Republican leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell condemn Trump and in the next breath tell us they still believe he should be our president."
"It is more important to them to have a Republican president even if he is clearly unqualified, unstable and hateful,” Durbin added.