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GOP Reacts to Donald Trump’s Controversial Remarks on Khan Family

Trump Has History of Standing Firm on Widely Condemned Remarks 2:07

Republicans have responded to a number of controversial comments that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump made about Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an American soldier killed in Iraq. Their son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service.

The couple appeared at the Democratic National Convention, where they condemned Trump's policies and statements about Muslims. Khizr Khan said that the businessman has "sacrificed nothing and no one" and questioned if Trump had read the U.S. Constitution.

Related: Khizr Khan, Father of Fallen U.S. Soldier: Trump Lacks 'Moral Compass'

Trump later appeared on ABC's "This Week" and was asked how he would answer the father's question about patriotic sacrifices.

"I think I made a lot of sacrifices," Trump said. "I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs."

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump mentioned Ghazala Khan, who was silent at the convention, saying that he wanted to hear her "say something."

The Army mother told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Friday that she did not speak at the DNC because she was anxious and feared she would become emotional at the sight of her son's picture.

"I was very nervous, because I cannot see my son's picture and I cannot even come in the room where his pictures are, and that's why when I saw the picture on my back, I couldn't take it," she told O'Donnell. "And I controlled myself at that time, so it is very hard."

She penned an editorial in The Washington Post on Sunday, rebuking Trump's notion that she had nothing to say.

"Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention," Khan wrote. "He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart."

Khizr Khan Says Trump Is 'Disingenuous Because of His Policies' 2:40

As backlash to Trump's comments came in swiftly, Trump's vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, issued a statement Sunday saying he and Trump "believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American."

In addition to the fallout on social media, which culminated with the Twitter hashtag #TrumpSacrifices, Republican public figures are being asked to weigh in on the situation.

"'Unacceptable' doesn't even begin to describe it," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who unsuccessfully opposed Trump for the Republican nomination.

"This is going to a place where we've never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen," Graham said in a statement. "There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics — that you don't do — like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier even if they criticize you. "

Ohio Gov. John Kasich took to Twitter on Saturday evening to weigh in on the controversy. While he did not mention Trump by name, Kasich wrote that "honor and respect" are the only way to discuss Gold Star families.

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, who served in combat as a Marine, condemned Trump's comments.

"Having served in Iraq, I'm deeply offended when Donald Trump fails to honor the sacrifices of all our brave soldiers who were lost in that war," Coffman said.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, AshLee Strong, also reacted — but without mentioning Trump by name.

"The speaker has made clear many times that he rejects this idea, and himself has talked about how Muslim Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country," she told The Huffington Post Saturday.

Ryan's press office released a follow-up statement on Sunday, again without addressing Trump by name. The statement reiterated Ryan's opposition to Trump's Muslim ban.

"America's greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it," Ryan's statement read. "As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it. Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, whose spokesman referred requests for comment on Saturday to McConnell's statement last December that Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States was "unacceptable," also issued a new statement Sunday. McConnell said he was grateful for the Khan family's sacrifice, but did not directly address Trump's response to the family.

"Capt. Khan was an American hero, and like all Americans I'm grateful for the sacrifices that selfless young men like Capt. Khan and their families have made in the war on terror," McConnell's statement read. "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."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Trump's comments "incredibly disrespectful" on Twitter on Sunday evening.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Trump supporter, defended Trump's comments.

"His interview was not unkind," Sessions told a CNN reporter. "It was respectful. It did express condolences to the family for their loss."

Trump tweeted about the situation on Sunday afternoon to say he was "viciously attacked" by Khan.

NBC News will update this article as more figures comment.