U.S. Sen. John Boozman on Monday (Aug. 1) said comments by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump about the family of a Muslim-American Army captain killed in action were “out of line and unnecessary.”
On Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan, the father of slain Army Captain Humayun Khan, criticized Trump for his proposed ban on Muslims entering the country. He asked if Trump had read the Constitution before dramatically pulling out his own copy. He said Trump had sacrificed nothing and no one. He then endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
The Khans and Trump have been having words since then. Trump questioned why Khan’s wife, Ghazala, stood by his side but did not speak. She later explained that she was too emotional seeing a photo of her son. He tweeted that Captain Khan was a hero but that the issue is radical Islamic terror. Trump said that Khizr Khan “viciously attacked me.” Trump told ABC News that he had sacrificed by working hard and creating jobs.
Trump’s remarks were condemned by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Veterans of Foreign Wars and others.
On Monday, Boozman, R-Ark., said in an interview with Talk Business & Politics, “I think we all have great sadness for the Khan family. Captain Khan was a true American hero. In regard to Mr. Trump’s statements, I think they were out of line and unnecessary. … Captain Khan was a true American hero, and so anything that would disparage that is out of line.”
Boozman’s Democratic opponent, Conner Eldridge, said, “What Trump has said is once again offensive and hateful and totally off base and wrong in every way.” He called on Boozman to issue a statement condemning Trump’s remarks. He said he would have the same responsibility to express his opposition to Hillary Clinton when he disagrees with her.
“The same standard applies,” he said. “The difference is that it’s Donald Trump who continues to make defamatory statements to the point that people like Sen. John McCain go out and have to comment on how wrong they are.”
BOOZMAN SUPPORTS TRUMP
Boozman reiterated his support for Trump, saying, “I support our nominee. I support Mr. Trump. There’s so much at stake in this election. The American people, the country of America, I don’t think can stand a third term of President Obama, and Secretary Clinton has embraced that wholeheartedly.”
Eldridge, meanwhile, reiterated his support for Clinton, saying, “When you look at this race, she is the one of the two I would choose to have the nuclear codes.”
Boozman said that he disagreed with Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims visiting the country, saying the United States has been working with Muslim countries like Jordan and needs their continued support.
“We’ve been at war now for many, many years, and we simply would not have had the gains that we’ve had without the contribution, sacrifice and cooperation of Muslims working hand in hand with the American troops,” he said.
Eldridge agreed, saying the ban “is against the Constitution and against the basic fabric of our country.”
However, Boozman said he would continue to favor a ban on Syrian refugees entering the country because they can’t be vetted properly. Instead, the refugees should be kept closer to their home country. Eldridge said he no longer supports a pause in admitting refugees, though he did last fall.
Boozman is cosponsoring a bill, the Keeping Our Commitment to Ending Veteran Homelessness Act, that would reauthorize seven veterans’ homeless programs set to expire Sept. 30. He said the bill probably will be folded into another bill, such as an appropriations bill.
During a press conference Wednesday, Trump said, “It would be interesting to see, I will tell you this, Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
The missing emails to which Trump was referring were those on Clinton’s private server that her lawyers destroyed rather than provide to the State Department. The attorneys said they were personal.
Some believe Russia was responsible for the recent hacking of Democratic National Committee emails. The Clinton campaign accused Trump of encouraging espionage by a foreign government.
Boozman dismissed the remarks.
“I think that was just a tongue-in-cheek comment. … The outcry over that, I think that’s what drives the American people crazy is the political correctness,” Boozman said. “Again, this was just a sarcastic comment that he made, and all of a sudden it is an international incident. We’ve got a lot of problems right now, but certainly a comment like that does not rank up there with them.”
“Those were irresponsible and shouldn’t be excused as some sort of a joke. … I have a major problem with a U.S. senator who’s going to excuse reckless foreign policy comments in that way, and that again highlights the real difference in this race, which is leadership and willingness to stand up and engage on important issues ranging from foreign policy to domestic issues,” he said.
Eldridge did not attend the Democratic National Convention. Asked about that, Boozman said, “It’s fine if you feel your time is better spent campaigning elsewhere, but if it’s done to distance yourself from President Obama and his policies and Hillary’s embrace of a third term, and not support the Democratic platform, then voters, particularly Democrats, need to know where you stand.”
Eldridge responded by saying, “The job of a U.S. senator from Arkansas is to represent Arkansas, period. It is not to go to conventions. It is not to fall in line with some national party, either party.”
Libertarian Senate candidate Frank GIlbert said Trump should have ignored the Khan speech.
“Regarding his response to Khizr Khan, Trump would have done well to heed the old adage concerning a pile of poop: ‘The less you stir it, the less it stinks.’ If he had ignored the Khan speech, no one would be talking about it now, but something deep inside him seems to drive Trump to lash out at anyone who disagrees with him. The speech was powerful and had to sting Trump and his supporters. His actions since it was given have only made it worse. That is an ongoing problem for him, his campaign and the political party he has taken hostage. I pray it will not become a problem for the whole country.
Gilbert also said Trump’s Russia reference is ‘disturbing.’
“His call for the Russian government to use their espionage apparatus to surveil a political opponent and sell the information to American media is, I believe, more disturbing. Trump’s view of the purpose of government and the relationship of sovereign nations is peeking from behind his remark. It is a vision that I don’t believe most Americans share.”