Posted September 21, 2018 06:00:58A few months ago, I spent a day with Trump and other GOP presidential candidates in their first televised campaign debate.
During the first half, Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov.
Mike Pence, were given a warm welcome.
In the second half, they were heckled.
I watched as Trump was called out for being insensitive to the grieving parents of a soldier killed in Iraq, a move that seemed to anger many of his Republican base.
(The GOP nominee had been quick to take credit for the parents’ death.)
Trump, the only presidential candidate in modern history to have never held elected office, had the most vicious, combative exchange of the night, when he was challenged on a number of issues, including the death of a Muslim soldier.
The candidate made a point of saying, “It’s very hard for me to understand why he didn’t want to hear what the parents were going through,” but he also acknowledged that he didn, in fact, want to.
I asked Trump about his response.
“I’m not going to say anything about what happened, but you know, I’ve seen what happened,” Trump told the crowd.
“So I don’t know why he wasn’t going to hear it.
I’ve heard it, and I don of course know what happened.”
What Trump was referring to was a tweet that had been circulating on social media that he had tweeted that, “As a Muslim American, I am appalled that President Trump has chosen to attack our Muslim brothers and sisters.
I am not the only Muslim American who has felt that way.”
The tweet came from the account @ImWithHer, which is a reference to a popular Twitter account created by a woman named Ashley Judd.
In it, Judd, a Republican, wrote, “This weekend, @realDonaldTrump made a personal attack on my Muslim family and I was left devastated.
I didn’t know who his real target was.
This is disgusting.”
Trump responded, “I am sickened by this language, and for many days I have been thinking about changing the subject.”
The next day, Trump tweeted, “Just had a very productive phone call with the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson.
He is a wonderful person, a wonderful man and a patriot.
Sad to see the loss of life and injury.
The media is trying to make a political issue out of it.”
A few days later, Trump announced that he was endorsing the widow of a fallen soldier.
He said that he would “always stand with the American people.”
The moment, and the tweet, were a response to the criticism that Trump had received for his handling of the death in Iraq of Sgt-La David Johnson, a soldier who had been killed by a roadside bomb.
Trump was also attacked for his remarks on the death.
“The last thing I said was the death penalty was a terrible idea,” Trump said on the Fox News show The O’Reilly Factor.
“We need to do it very humanely, and it is.”
But the media and some in the Republican Party have argued that Trump has made the comments to inflame white nationalist anger and for other reasons, including to further his candidacy.
“It is one of the few times that a Republican presidential candidate has publicly embraced a message of violence and hatred,” the New York Times’ political editor, Jill Abramson, wrote in a column published Tuesday.
Trump has repeatedly accused the media of trying to paint him as an extremist, saying, for instance, that he has said he is not a racist and has said that the media is out to get him.
(Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about this story.)
Trump has also been attacked for not holding his campaign events in the states he is most popular in.
He was criticized for doing a televised debate in Alabama, where he was in the lead in the polls and the race was still very close.
“Why aren’t Trump rallies in Alabama and other red states held in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio?” asked Republican consultant and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who was not on the debate stage in Alabama.
Trump responded that the debate was held in Detroit because he wanted to make sure his supporters were in Detroit, not because of the fact that it was in Detroit.
He later added that the audience in Detroit is much smaller than it is in places that are much larger, like Florida and Texas.
He also claimed that he did not know that Detroit is home to the World Trade Center, which he said he had “never even heard of.”
“I’ve seen the destruction of the World Tragedy and have to tell you that we’re not even close to being there,” he said, adding that “we’ve been so outgunned and outgunaged.”
Gingrich added that Trump should have been able to handle the debate better.
“He’s not a politician,” he wrote.