Senior GOP leaders distance themselves from candidate's response to Khizr Khan speech
John McCain has become the latest Republican to denounce Donald Trump’s comments about the parents of an American Muslim soldier who died in Iraq.
The US senator, whose war record was once belittled by Mr Trump, challenged the presidential candidate to “set the example for what our country can and should represent”.
“While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us,” Mr McCain said in a lengthy statement.
"I cannot emphasise enough how deeply I disagree with Mr Trump's statement," he added.
"I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates."
His remarks came after a string of senior Republicans distanced themselves from Mr Trump’s response to a speech by Khizr Khan, whose son was killed by a suicide bomb in 2004 at the age of 27.
Addressing the Democratic National Convention on Thursday with his wife, Ghazala, Mr Khan accused the Republican candidate of smearing the character of Muslims.
"If it was up to Donald Trump, [my son] never would have been in America,” he said, adding that the New York billionaire has “sacrificed nothing and no one”.
On Saturday, in an interview with ABC News, Mr Trump insisted he had made sacrifices for the country, including by employing “thousands and thousands of people”.
He also implied that Ghazala Khan was not allowed to speak during Mr Khan's speech because of her religion.
Mrs Khan hit out at the suggestion yesterday in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, writing: “Just talking about it is hard for me all the time.
“Every day, whenever I pray, I have to pray for him, and I cry. The place that emptied will always be empty.”
US Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and House speaker, Paul Ryan, also criticised Mr Trump’s remarks over the weekend, though neither mentioned him by name.
"All Americans should value the patriotic service of the patriots who volunteer to selflessly defend us in the armed services.
"And as I have long made clear, I agree with the Khans and families across the country that a travel ban on all members of a religion is simply contrary to American values," Mr McConnell said.
Mr Ryan issued a similar statement: "America's greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it.
"As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it.”