Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s spat with a Muslim gold star family isn’t the first time the parents of a slain U.S. soldier have publicly questioned the fitness of prominent Republicans to serve as Commander in Chief.
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Army Specialist Casey Sheehan who was killed during the Iraq War in March 2004, staged a public, years long campaign against President Bush beginning in 2005. She camped outside the president’s Prairie Chapel Ranch for over a month in August 2005, demanding a meeting with Bush to discuss the war. “Camp Casey” became a media zeitgeist, visited by hundreds of supporters, Democrat U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters and Shelia Jackson Lee, as well as Joan Baez, Martin Sheen and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Bush fielded a question about Sheehan during a press conference on August 11, 2oo5, five days after Sheehan began her demonstration.
“I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan,” Bush said. “She feels strongly about her position, and she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has the right to her position. And I thought long and hard about her position — I’ve heard her position from others, which is ‘get out of Iraq now.’ And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so.”
Sheehan’s demonstration was not the first time an aggrieved gold star family confronted Bush. Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino relayed a similar incident in her memoir “And The Good News Is” in which the grieving mother of a dying soldier confronted Bush during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.
“One mom and dad of a dying soldier from the Caribbean were devastated, the mom beside herself with grief,” she wrote in the book. “She yelled at the president, wanting to know why it was her child and not his who lay in that hospital bed. Her husband tried to calm her and I noticed the president wasn’t in a hurry to leave—he tried offering comfort but then just stood and took it, like he expected and needed to hear the anguish, to try to soak up some of her suffering if he could.”
Donald Trump was less sympathetic with the parents of Humayun Khan, a U.S. Army officer who died in Iraq in June 2004. The Khan’s addressed the Democratic National Convention last week, polemicizing against Trump’s candidacy. The Manhattan mogul responded by questioning Mrs. Khan’s silence during the address, insinuating her husband had forbidden her from speaking on religious grounds.
Trump later doubled down on Twitter, characterizing Mr. Khan as vicious and defending his right to rebut their criticisms.
He attempted to walk back the remarks in a statement, calling Capt. Khan a hero and urging all to honor his sacrifice, before attempting to pivot to the threat of terrorism.
“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe,” he said. “The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country to do us further harm.” (RELATED: Trump: American Muslim Soldier Who Died In Iraq Is A ‘Hero’)
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