This is one awkward interview. RNC chairman Reince Priebus appeared on CNN Monday evening and was asked about Donald Trump’s criticism of the Khan family. Priebus spends the next four minutes saying he would never go there and that no one should go there. While he doesn’t directly rebuke Trump by name, there’s no other way to parse his comments.
After noting a list of Republicans who have criticized Trump’s comments as disrespectful, Wolf Blitzer asks, “Do you agree with them?” “I think our gold star families are precious and I think they’re to be honored and loved and cherished,” Priebus replied. “I think this family should be off limits and we love them,” he added.
“I can’t imagine being a father of a little girl and boy going through the unbelievable grief of them not coming home one day in battle. I mean there is nothing more sacrificial than that and we believe that and we know that and I believe that Donald Trump and Mike Pence also know and understand that…Look, there’s nothing but honor and respect for this family and all families that go through these types of horrific things in their life…That’s why I think we don’t go there and I don’t go there.”
Blitzer immediately pointed out that “Trump went there” and asked if Priebus agreed that Trump had been “viciously attacked.” “Donald Trump is going to speak for Donald Trump, I mean, he wants to defend himself. It’s understandable,” Priebus said. He then repeated that the family had to be loved and cherished.
Asked if it would have been better for Trump not to say anything about the Khan family Priebus replied, “Hindsight is 20/20, but obviously I am who I am and I’m talking for the party. I believe that these families, these gold star families, are off limits and they’re to be loved and cherished and honored.
“Should he apologize to this family?” Blitzer asked. “It’s up to Donald Trump. I love these families. Our party loves these families and like I said before, they’re heroes, they’re cherished…it’s just and unbelievable burden to carry,” Priebus said. He added, “Whatever sacrifices I think I’ve made…they’re crumbs on the floor compared to these families.”
Priebus’ remarks about the sacrifice made by gold star families reads like a direct response to Trump’s suggestion Saturday that he had made sacrifices as well by providing jobs for people. Priebus obviously doesn’t want to point that out directly or to say Trump was wrong but there’s no other way to parse his statement. What the spokesman for the party believes is at odds with what the nominee has been saying. This is probably as close as any party chairman will ever come to rebuking his own party’s nominee.