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Amid Trump Attacks, Abbott Defends Fallen Muslim Soldier's Family

Gov. Greg Abbott is coming to the defense of a fallen Muslim soldier's family, which has been under attack from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a Rotary Club of San Antonio luncheon on March 23, 2016.

Gov. Greg Abbott is coming to the defense of a fallen Muslim soldier's family, which has been under attack from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. 

"The service and devotion of Gold Star families to America cannot be questioned," Abbott said in a statement provided Monday to The Texas Tribune. "Captain [Humayun] Khan, like many heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice, will be forever remembered for their service in protecting the freedoms we cherish in America." 

Trump has been clashing with the Khans after Khizr Khan, Humayun Khan's father, delivered an emotional speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in which he said Trump had "sacrificed nothing and no one." Trump has since said Khizr Khan had "no right" to criticize him and speculated that the soldier's mother, who also appeared onstage at the Democratic Convention, was not "allowed" to speak.

Trump's fight with the Khans has prompted statements from Republican leaders emphasizing the need for respect for Gold Star families. Few have specifically condemned Trump, whose proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. was at the heart of Khizr Khan's speech. 

Abbott, who supported Ted Cruz in the presidential primary season, is backing Trump for president but not as vocally as some other statewide officials, such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. A spokesman for Patrick did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday on Trump's war of words with the Khans. Neither did a spokesman for former Gov. Rick Perry, an enthusiastic Trump backer who served in the U.S. Air Force. 

There was also no immediate comment from Texas' two U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. A Cornyn spokesman said he had not yet had a chance to speak with the senator, while a Cruz spokeswoman declined comment.

One Republican member of the Texas congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, said in a prepared statement that he is "dismayed at the attacks Khizr and Ghazala Khan have endured after they spoke about their son's service and sacrifice."

"There is never enough honor we can show to the families of those whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country," said Thornberry, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee. "Service to our country is above politics. I believe that each of us are called every day to show our deepest respect and gratitude to all of those who protect our freedom and their families."

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Politics 2016 elections Greg Abbott