Making Republicans cringe again

Donald Trump boasts about his prowess as a counterpuncher, but there are Republicans who wish he knew when it was better to walk away instead of, say, taking on the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who died a hero in Iraq.

Since Khizr and Ghazala Khan appeared at the Democratic convention, the GOP candidate has repeatedly complained that the father maligned him in questioning whether Trump understood sacrifice or the Constitution. (Video here.)

Trump also insinuated the mother didn’t speak because of her religion. Ghazala Khan said no, it was because a photo of her late son projected onstage left her too distraught.

“Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?” she wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed Sunday. Khizr Khan said on CNN that Trump is “totally unfit for the leadership of this country” (Video here).

See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

Another distancing event

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Just a few days after stepping away from Trump’s call on Russian hackers to find Hillary Clinton’s emails, GOP congressional leaders, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, issued statements voicing honor for the Khans and opposition to bigotry without mentioning Trump, who they have endorsed.

Others were less reticent, such as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who is backing Trump, but said, “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”

On Twitter, Trump took offense at expressions of offense: “I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!”

On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) joined the chorus of GOP voices condemning Trump’s remarks.

McCain, a former Navy pilot who was held captive as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, issued a statement saying he was “morally bound to speak.”

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service,” McCain said. “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.”

Pence comes to Trump’s defense

Trump’s running mate Mike Pence issued a statement late Sunday night asserting that Trump was supportive of all military families, including Gold Star families like the Khans.

“Donald Trump and I believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American,” Pence said in a campaign statement.

Trump debate scrimmage: No gain

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The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates was unmoved by Trump’s accusation that the Clinton campaign rigged the debate schedule to overlap with NFL games.

Noting there are religious holidays and baseball playoffs on the calendar, too, a commission statement said the schedule was worked out last year and “it is impossible to avoid all sporting events.”

Trump said the NFL also complained in a letter to him. The NFL said there was no letter. Then Trump’s campaign changed his story to say he had heard from “a source close to the league.”

The first debate is set for Monday, Sept. 26 at Hofstra University.

The take-away: Road games

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Both party conventions showed off big regional players displaying loyalty to bigger national players, including past and present New York pols and another who is just a bridge away, New Jersey’s Chris Christie. Newsday’s Dan Janison kept the home team score card.

Knock, knock. Putin’s there.

Trump tripped up during an exchange with ABC host George Stephanopoulos about Ukraine and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who seized the Crimean peninsula two years ago.

“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,” Trump said.

“Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?”

“OK — Well, he’s there in a certain way.”

Trump went on to say it may be time for the U.S. to recognize Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory. For more, see the ABC transcript.

Wronger together

Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Hillary Clinton again portrayed FBI Director James Comey’s assessment of her email transgressions as milder than it was, according to the The Washington Post’s fact-checker. Among other things, he called Clinton “extremely careless.”

And while Comey did say there was no evidence she lied to the FBI, that is not the same as saying she told the truth to the American public, the Post concluded. Clinton’s spin was rated four Pinocchios — meaning it’s a whopper.

On Monday, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said Clinton’s remarks during the interview “were slightly misinterpreted.

“I can tell you what she said to the FBI is the same as what she’s been saying publicly,” Mook said in a Monday morning appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Crisis in command?

Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, a Clinton supporter, said on ABC’s “This Week” that a President Trump could foment a “civil military crisis” if he orders illegal actions such as torture or murdering families of terrorists.

Meanwhile, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized both Allen and retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who supports Trump, for appearing at the conventions.

“The American people should not wonder where their military leaders draw the line between military advice and political preference,” Dempsey wrote in a letter to The Washington Post.

Clinton’s post-convention bump

A CBS News poll released Monday morning shows Hillary Clinton received a four-point polling boost after last week’s Democratic National Convention, compared with the two-point uptick Trump received after the Republican National Convention.

Clinton leads Trump 46 percent to 39 percent after the Democratic convention, according to the national poll. The two candidates were tied at 42 percent following the GOP convention.

What else is happening

  • Still steamed at former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s shots at him at the Democratic convention, Trump said that when they golfed together, “I hit the ball a lot longer, a lot better.” He also said Bloomberg “never had the guts” to run for president.
  • Read what other billionaires have had to say about the presidential race on Newsday.com.
  • Trump’s campaign reacted mildly to the New York Post’s publication of nude photos from the 1990s of his wife, Melania. “They’re a celebration of the human body as art,” said senior communications adviser Jason Miller on CNN. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
  • Hacked emails show how Democrats decided to shift their message, blaming congressional Republicans for the rise of Trump to focus more on reaching out to Republicans and independents, Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.
  • Symone Sanders, an African-American who was Bernie Sanders’ press secretary, said she constantly faced racism from the campaign’s field operatives, who wouldn’t believe she was on the senator’s national staff.
  • A pocket version of the U.S. Constitution has become a best-seller on Amazon.com since Khizr Khan held up his copy at the Democratic convention and said Trump should read it.

With Laura Figueroa