Trump ignores advice to move on from Khan controversy

The Trump campaign appears divided over the controversy surrounding the candidate's argument with Khizr Khan, the father of a decorated soldier killed in Iraq.  As Republicans around the country including some of Mr. Trump's biggest supporters criticize the candidate for his harsh words against Khan, some campaign aides are urging Trump to move on from the controversy, while others are saying he has a "right to defend himself."

New York Times:

The Trump campaign has taken a few steps to recover its footing: Mr. Trump canceled a Thursday event in Plattsburgh, N.Y., a community with ties to the military in one of the country’s most heavily Democratic states. Trump strategists said the campaign would redouble its criticism of Mrs. Clinton’s support for military action in Iraq and Libya.

The Trump campaign appears divided over the controversy surrounding the candidate's argument with Khizr Khan, the father of a decorated soldier killed in Iraq.  As Republicans around the country including some of Mr. Trump's biggest supporters criticize the candidate for his harsh words against Khan, some campaign aides are urging Trump to move on from the controversy, while others are saying he has a "right to defend himself."

New York Times:

The Trump campaign has taken a few steps to recover its footing: Mr. Trump canceled a Thursday event in Plattsburgh, N.Y., a community with ties to the military in one of the country’s most heavily Democratic states. Trump strategists said the campaign would redouble its criticism of Mrs. Clinton’s support for military action in Iraq and Libya.

Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s top political adviser, accused Mrs. Clinton of seeking to “avoid a discussion of her failed record” at the State Department by pursuing Mr. Trump on other fronts.

“The Khan family has suffered an irreplaceable loss. For this loss, all Americans grieve,” Mr. Manafort said in an email. “The way to avoid these tragedies from continuing is to have leadership that will not make the mistakes of the Obama/Clinton administration.”

But already, Mr. Trump’s stubbornness has carried a heavy price: Senior party leaders have scolded him, including Mr. McCain, who castigated Mr. Trump in a lengthy statement Monday.

Even one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said Tuesday that it was inappropriate to attack the Khan family.

“You’re not going to find me being critical of Mr. and Mrs. Khan no matter what,” Mr. Christie said. “It’s just inappropriate for us in this context to be criticizing them, and I’m not going to participate in that.”

Mr. Trump at first appeared on Tuesday to restrain himself, up to a point. At a campaign stop in Northern Virginia, he avoided mentioning the Khans by name, but continued to grumble about his treatment by the news media.

He lamented to supporters that reporters had overlooked the story of Patricia Smith, the mother of a serviceman killed in the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in order to highlight “other people” — apparently a reference to the Khan family.

“They give her virtually no airtime, and they give other people unbelievable amounts of airtime,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s just so unfair. It’s so unfair.”

By the end of the day, Mr. Trump had turned that grievance into an explosive confrontation with the leaders of his own party.

Some Trump supporters are pushing back by posting information regarding Mr. Khan's views of sharia law and Islam.  Others are claiming the Clinton campaign paid him to speak at the convention.  Even if true, as a matter of pragmatic politics, Trump's argument with a Gold Star mother and family may be the biggest mistake of any presidential campaign in the modern era.  It isn't just the perception of Trump piling on a grieving family.  The Republican Party is on the verge of repuditating its own candidate. 

Republicans now say Mr. Trump’s obstinacy in addressing perhaps the gravest crisis of his campaign may trigger drastic defections within the party, and Republican lawmakers and strategists have begun to entertain abandoning him en masse.

Mrs. Clinton, who explicitly courted Republicans at last week’s convention, has already picked up a few telling Republican endorsements: Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise executive who ran for governor of California as a Republican, backed Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday, as did Representative Richard Hanna of New York, a moderate Republican. Both denounced Mr. Trump’s treatment of the Khan family.

GOP politicians even Trump supporters are weighing the damage to their own campaigns if they repuditate Trump.  It may be getting to the point that opposing the candidate will actually become a political plus.  Most of those politicians will be watching the August 9 primary in Wisconsin, where Trump has all but endorsed Paul Ryan's challenger, businessman Paul Nehlen.  Nehlen has been hammering Ryan as a tool of the Washington establishment a "soulless" man.  There hasn't been a poll since May when Ryan was leading Nehlen 80-7.  What effect Trump's unfriendliness toward Ryan will have on the race will affect how other GOP politicians run their own campaigns.

With more than three months to go before the voting starts, you have to wonder how much support within the Republican Party Trump will be able to muster if he continues to offend the sensibilities of most Americans.