Donald Trump on Monday doubled down on his criticism of an American Muslim family whose son was killed in Iraq, stating in an early morning tweet that Khizr Khan, the soldier's father was, "all over TV" spreading "vicious" attacks.
The Republican nominee's remarks came as he stumbled out of the box as the candidates headed into the final 100 days of the presidential campaign with the conventions behind them. Trump's tweet Monday suggests that he will follow the same strategy he has used throughout his nontraditional campaign: Rather than acknowledge criticism, he will dig in and fire back.
"Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same - Nice!" Trump tweeted Monday.
Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same - Nice!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
Khizr Khan, whose son Capt. Humayun Khan was killed by a car bomb in Iraq in 2004, spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week. He said the real estate mogul "consistently smears the character of Muslims," and called on Americans to vote for the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton "and not the divider."
The bad headlines for Trump started with a slight against the Khan family that drew backlash from many of the most prominent voices in the GOP . He was then challenged by the NFL and the Koch brothers for unrelated claims he made about correspondence with each group.
Trump later retreated from his claim that the NFL had sent him a letter complaining about the fall presidential debates that conflicted with prime-time games after the league said it had sent him no such letter. Critics used that as a sign he was considering trying to get out of the debates.
The streak continued after Trump's confused assertions during a interview on ABC's "This Week" about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that led to questions about whether he fully understood the situation there .
The barrage of negative press showed no signs of stopping Monday morning, with Arizona Sen. John McCain issuing a statement that Trump had defamed the Khan family and did not represent the GOP.
"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," McCain said.
Throughout the storm, Trump showed no indication of changing course on his Twitter feed, one of his campaign's main avenues of communicating with voters.
Nielson Media Research final numbers on ACCEPTANCE SPEECH: TRUMP 32.2 MILLION. CLINTON 27.8 MILLION. Thank you! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
He bragged about "big crowds" at his weekend campaign events in Colorado.
Just got back from Colorado. The love and enthusiasm at two rallies was incredible. Big crowds!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2016
And he blamed any negative attention on liberal bias in the media.
Wow, it is unbelievable how distorted, one-sided and biased the media is against us. The failing @nytimes is a joke. @CNN is laughable! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
He also attempted to clarify his statements about the Ukraine conflict.
In an interview Sunday with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Trump said that, if he were president, the Kremlin was not "going to go into" Ukraine. He then backpedaled when Stephanopoulos pointed out that Russian forces seized the country's Crimean peninsula two years ago.
“He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand,” Trump said. “He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”
“Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?” Stephanopoulos said.
“OK, well, he’s there in a certain way,” Trump replied. “But I’m not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he’s going away. He take — takes Crimea.”
In a series of tweets Monday morning, Trump said that his comments were misinterpreted, apparently arguing that he had been making a distinction between Crimea and the rest of the Ukraine. He said that, as president, he would not allow Putin's troops to advance.
When I said in an interview that Putin is "not going into Ukraine, you can mark it down," I am saying if I am President. Already in Crimea!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
He also argued that the Russian presence in Crimea was the fault of the Obama administration.
So with all of the Obama tough talk on Russia and the Ukraine, they have already taken Crimea and continue to push. That's what I said! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016