New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, spoke out in defense of Khizr and Ghazala Khan on Tuesday, calling attacks on the Gold Star parents “inappropriate.”
The Khans, whose son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq, have been at the center of a feud with Trump since the father criticized the Republican presidential nominee at last week’s Democratic National Convention.
“I didn’t see Mr. Khan’s speech at the DNC, but I’ll just say this: I’m a father, and I just cannot imagine the pain of losing a child under any circumstances,” Christie told reporters Tuesday afternoon, Politico and other outlets reported.
“And for Mr. and Mrs. Khan, the pain of losing their son while defending our country is unfathomable, and I think it gives them the right to say whatever they want, whether they’re right or wrong,” he continued.
Though he refrained from weighing in on Trump’s handling of the Khan dispute — which has included Trump questioning the mother’s silence at the DNC — Christie’s comments signaled an unexpected shift from one of Trump’s staunchest allies. Christie, who briefly ran against Trump for the GOP nomination, was among the first politicians to endorse the Manhattan billionaire.
“We need to honor their sacrifice for our country, and we need to honor their son’s sacrifice for our country,” Christie said. “And to focus on anything other than that, to me, is missing the point. That’s what we should be doing, and any comments that we’re making publicly or privately should be with that in mind.”
Most Republicans, like Christie, have avoided defending Trump in the controversy. Some, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have issued passionate statements denouncing Trump’s pushback against the Khans.
“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service,” McCain said in a statement released by his office Monday. “I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”