By Scott Wong
August 2, 2016
Donald Trump’s campaign sent out an email to surrogates this week titled “URGENT PIVOT” as the campaign seeks to control the damage from Trump’s war of words with the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq.
The memo, obtained by The Hill, asks surrogates on Capitol Hill to coordinate messaging and push back on attacks on Trump.
“All — As usual, the media is working against our efforts and our messaging specifically as it relates to the tragic death of Capt. Humayun Khan,” Scott Mason, Trump’s director of congressional affairs, wrote.
“We are asking you to review and use the attached talking points in your daily messaging, including a release and/or statements you can put out in your social media immediately to support Mr. Trump and OUR message, that we must end radical Islamic terror so that soldiers like Capt. Khan, and all Americans, will be safe.”
Trump has faced an enormous backlash from Democrats, military and veterans groups, and even many prominent Republicans after he went after Khizr and Ghazala Khan on Twitter and in TV interviews in recent days.
Both appeared on stage at last week’s Democratic National Convention, challenging Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country. Khizr Khan asked the GOP nominee if he had ever read the Constitution while dramatically pulling a pocket version of the founding document from his jacket.
Mason’s email, which was also sent to Trump aides including Rick Dearborn, MacKenzie Smith, Jeff Freeland and Adnan Jalil, demonstrates how serious Trump’s team is treating fallout from the Khan controversy.
Retiring Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) said Tuesday he would vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton after Trump blasted the Khans. Sally Bradshaw, a top aide to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said Trump's attacks motivated her to leave the Republican Party.
And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a war hero who spent years in a Vietnam prisoner-of-war camp, issued a powerful statement saying Trump’s attacks “do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”
Gold Star families should be “off limits,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared.
In the attached talking points, the Trump campaign provided transcripts of interviews Trump had given about the Khans and argued that the businessman’s comments had been misconstrued by the media. The talking points stated:
“Mr. Trump was asked about Mr. Khan’s comments during the DNC, and he replied that he wished him well.
“Many in the media reported falsely that Trump had compared his sacrifices to Mr. Khan’s son which is completely false and the transcripts show that to be true.
“Mr. Trump wants to end radical Islamic terror, so that our soldiers like Mr. Khan’s son will be safe.”
The four-page memo also contained talking points blaming the policies of President Obama and Clinton for Russian aggression; accusing Clinton of treating the State Department like her personal hedge fund; drawing attention to the email leak at the Democratic National Committee; and attacking last week’s Democratic convention.
“We will be summarizing all supporting statements for NY and Mr. Trump to see this evening, so please act now and send us a copy/share whatever you're able to post,” Mason wrote in his email to dozens of Capitol Hill surrogates. “Thanks for your continued support. Welcome to August.”
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