Republican nominee Donald Trump met with six Gold Star families before his campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida Wednesday night.
“I just visited with some incredible folks…some really amazing Gold Star families,” Trump told roughly 16,000 people at his campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida. “Incredible people.”
Trump in Jacksonville, Florida, says he met with six Gold Star families backstage. He calls them "incredible people."
— Emily Stephenson (@ewstephe) August 3, 2016
Trump’s meeting with Gold Star families comes after he received backlash from the Khans, a Gold Star family of a Muslim American soldier who was killed in combat.
“Trump then claimed that one of the family members handed him a campaign contribution in the form of a check,” according to CNN.
“He said, ‘It’s more money than we can afford, but I want you to have it for your campaign,'” Trump recalled.
The Military Times reported about Trump’s meeting with Gold Star families, providing more details of the roughly 30-minute meeting.
The families shared concerns about national security and the campaign.
According to the Military Times, the meeting “included top Trump defense advisor retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and was organized by Karen Vaughn, the mother of a fallen Navy SEAL and a featured speaker at last month’s Republican convention. Ten parents, siblings and spouses of fallen service members were included.”
“It was really a chance to tell our stories, but also talk about problems with the rules of engagement (for troops in war zones) and the failed policies of the current administration,” Vaughn explained. “I walked out feeling like I understood where his heart is, regardless of the comments that he made that may seem insensitive to some.”
Vaughn said she thought the media coverage of the Khan family has overshadowed more important election issues.
The Military Times noted that Vaughn “accused Clinton supporters of exaggerating the comments to cover her own national security shortfalls, and what she see as an insensitive reaction to the families of Americans killed in the 2012 terrorist attacks on U.S. embassy facilities in Libya.”
“This is a media issue that has been blown out of proportion,” Vaughn stressed. “We want to talk about the things our husbands, fathers and sons died for. So we had a substantive conversation, and I feel like he understands if he becomes commander in chief, these are the kinds of decisions and results he’ll have to deal with.”
“She said several family members in the event were connected to Operation 300, a charity that Vaughn helped found in 2012 to benefit the children of fallen troops,” the Military Times details. “While thanking the attendees for the meeting, Trump agreed to make a donation to that group. Veterans groups and several prominent Republican leaders have pushed Trump to apologize for the public fight with Khan, but Vaughn said she did not think any such move is needed.”
“As a Gold Star mother, I don’t expect anything,” Vaughn declared. “My son is the one who gave his life, not me.”