"We wouldn't have been in this horrible, horrible mistake."
Donald Trump doubled down Wednesday on his claim that U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim who died in Iraq in 2004, "would be alive today" if he had been president.
"Had I been president, Captain Khan would be alive today. We wouldn't have been in this horrible, horrible mistake, the war in Iraq," the Republican presidential nominee told ABC News' George Stephanopoulous, who reminded Trump that he did, in fact, support the Iraq War in the beginning. But Trump stood by his denial.
The story about the slain soldier became national news when his father, Khizr Khan, spoke at the Democratic National Convention over the summer. At the time, he said Trump had "
sacrificed nothing and no one
." Retaliating against the attack, the billionaire businessman questioned whether Ghazala Khan, who accompanied her husband on stage, was "
" to speak.
At the second presidential debate, Hillary Clinton tried to goad Trump into apologizing to the Khan family.
Trump told his Democratic rival that Captain Khan was "an American hero," but ultimately stepped on his message when he made this claim: "If I were president at that time, he would be alive today, because unlike her, who voted for the war without knowing what she was doing, I would not have had our people in Iraq."
Asked Wednesday by Stephanopoulous if he would apologize yet to the Gold Star family, Trump said he has "great respect" for the Khans and again called the deceased soldier a "hero."
Khizr Khan began campaigning with Clinton this week, calling Trump out for his words about his son — and failure to apologize for them — during an event in Norfolk, Virginia.
"This is the most cruel thing you can say to grieving parents, that if I was there this would not have happened," he told ABC. "There's no sincerity in those remarks…This is one character that a leader must have to be the leader of a great country, to be the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the United States: empathy. And this person totally lacks that."
While Trump has reiterated over and over again that he has always been against the Iraq War, there is 2002 audio from an appearance he made on Howard Stern's radio show, where he said, "
Yeah, I guess so
," in response to a question about whether he was "for invading Iraq."
Trump, for his part, asserted to the ABC anchor that his comments about the war were "way before" it started. The Iraq invasion officially started in 2003.
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