Republican nominee Donald Trump lashed out at two Muslim American parents who lost their son while he served in the US military in Iraq and who appeared at the Democratic National Convention last week, stirring outrage among critics who said the episode proves that Trump lacks the compassion and temperament to be president.
Asked to comment on the convention speech of Khizr Khan, a Pakistani immigrant whose son, Army Captain Humayun Khan, died in Iraq in 2004, Trump described Khan as "very emotional" and said he "probably looked like a nice guy to me" - then accused him of being controlled by the Hillary Clinton's campaign. "Who wrote that? Did Hillary's scriptwriters write it?" he asked on ABC.
Trump also questioned why Khan's wife, Ghazala, did not speak on stage, despite the fact that she sat for an interview with MSNBC the following day. "His wife, 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," he said.
The Republican nominee's remarks drew strong rebukes. "Trump's slur against Captain Khan's mother is, even for him, beyond the pale," tweeted John Weaver, a Republican strategist for Ohio Governor John Kasich. "He has NO redeeming qualities."In an interview with MSNBC, Ghazala Khan said she did not speak because she is still devastated by her son's death and grows emotional when she sees his picture.
Matt Mackowiak, another GOP strategist, tweeted: "There is only one response for Trump to the criticism: 'As an American, I deeply appreciate the patriotic sacrifice of the Khan family."'
On Friday, Khizr Khan blasted Trump's rhetoric on Muslims and immigrants. Pulling his pocket version of the US Constitution from his jacket, he questioned whether Trump has read the document. "You have sacrificed nothing and no one," Khan said.
Trump pointed to the sacrifices he has made as a businessman: "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".
The backlash was swift. "Trump revealed exactly who he is in this answer and it's not pretty. A man this callous and cruel can't be President," former President Barack Obama senior adviser Dan Pfieffer tweeted. Paul Rieckoff, the founder and chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told ABC that Trump's comparison of his own sacrifice to that of war veterans is an insult.
In a statement titled "Setting the Record Straight," Trump called Humayun Khan a "hero" but rejected his father's accusations.
"While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things."
Trump avoided the draft during the Vietnam War through several student deferments. He was later medically disqualified from service.
"He's a person that has no self-control. He just has no sense of decency or empathy when it comes to dealing with others," said Tim Miller, a veteran GOP strategist. "It's always zero sum. You compliment me, I compliment you. You criticise me, I mock you ... It's all about him and his egotism."
While campaigning in Colorado, Trump was rescued from lift that was stuck between the first and second floors of the Mining Exchange resort. Firefighters opened the top lift hatch and lowered a ladder. Trump and about 10 others used the ladder to climb out.