Governor Branstad today criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, after Trump got into a so-called war of words with the father of a soldier who died in Iraq.
At last week’s Democratic convention, with his wife by his side, Khizr Khan spoke out against Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States until security concerns are addressed.
Trump calls that a vicious attack, and he questioned why the dead soldier’s mother didn’t speak.
Branstad suggests Democrats set a trap for the candidate by having Khan speak.
He says Trump should not have taken the bait.
“I just think that anyone that has died in the service of our country is a hero, and I think that was a mistake,” Branstad said at his weekly statehouse news conference. “I believe the focus needs to be on the differences he has with Hillary Clinton in terms of policies."
Branstad says he spoke to Trump last week between his Davenport and Cedar Rapids appearances.
He says he’s advising the campaign to stay disciplined, but he doesn’t think Trump should apologize.
“I’m not going to get into that,” Branstad said; “I’m just saying he needs to focus on the issues that are important to the American people.”
Branstad says Trump did a good job of that in his Iowa appearances last week.
Trump made his remarks about Khizr Khan last week and again Monday on Twitter.
Branstad didn’t say Trump should stop tweeting.
“I’m not going to try to tell Donald Trump or Chuck Grassley or anyone else,” Branstad said, referring to Grassley’s frequent presence on Twitter.
“I have staff that handles that for me,” Branstad said with a chuckle. “ I think they’ve done a good job.”
Trump will return to the state with a campaign appearance in Des Moines on Friday.
In a statement today, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire is urging Republicans in the state to condemn Trump and what she calls his “hateful rhetoric”. She says it has no place in political discourse.