Khizr Khan, the father of a slain Muslim soldier who electrified the Democratic National Convention on Thursday with his powerful denunciation of Donald Trump's bigotry, called on Republican leaders to reject the man they have reluctantly endorsed as their presidential candidate.
“My conscience compels me under these very difficult circumstances, very raw emotions,” Khan said during a Friday interview on MSNBC. “There is so much at stake and I appeal to both of these leaders, this is the time. There comes a time in the history of a nation where a stand has to be taken regardless of the political cost.”
Khan had only addressed Trump's Islamophobia during his DNC speech. In his follow-up remarks on Friday, he singled out Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as needing to make a public break with Trump.
“They have disagreed with his practices, his threats to minorities, disrespect to the legal system, legal institutions,” he said. “If your candidate wins and he governs the way he has campaigned, my country, this country will have a constitutional crisis [like] never before in the history of this country.”
Ryan and McConnell are both walking a fine line between their duty to support the nominee of their party and criticizing a man who they clearly disagree with in many areas. Ryan in particular has referred to Trump's remarks on the Mexican heritage of the judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit as "the textbook definition of a racist comment."
Both have clashed with Trump in just the last week. Ryan released a statement through a spokesman that Russia "should stay out of this election" after Trump called on the country to "find the 30,000 emails that are missing," and McConnell stated his strong disagreement with Trump's comments on NATO.
But a reluctant endorsement is still an endorsement, and both men have openly endorsed Trump as recently as last week's Republican convention.
Update: After Trump responded to Khan's speech in an interview earlier today, where the candidate claimed to have made lots of sacrifices and questioned why Khan's grief-stricken wife didn't say anything during the speech, Ryan's press secretary Ashlee Strong released the following statement.