The Old Virginia House of Delegates chamber
The Old Virginia House of Delegates chamber | wikimedia, commons

Gold Star Father Khan Urged to Run for Virginia Statehouse

A Democratic political activist has created an online fundraising campaign to encourage a Virginia statehouse run by Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father whose emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention was criticized by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Trump's comments against Khan, a Muslim American whose son Capt. Humayun Khan died in combat in Iraq in 2004, have caused a political tempest that has stymied Trump's campaign, which has seen a steep dip in national opinion polls over the past week.

Democratic activist Tom Keefe, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War, created the campaign on Wednesday and had already raised $12,600 as of early afternoon on Thursday. Calling it "Yes We Khan," the campaign urges Khan to make a run for the Virginia House of Delegates.

"We need more candidates like Khizr Khan, not Donald Trump, to run for office in America," Keefe wrote on the website. "Mr. Khan is someone who has achieved the American Dream and made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Donald Trump couldn't even name a single sacrifice he has made. Help draft Khizr Khan to run for State Delegate in the 58th district in Virginia. He would be the first ever Muslim American to hold this seat."

The fundraising money, the site notes, would only be used if Khan does decide to run. The seat is currently held by a Republican, U.S. Rep. Robert B. Bell of Albemarle.

Khan has yet to comment publicly on the fundraising effort by Keefe.

Despite reported pleas to hush by campaign advisors, Trump has continued what many see as polarizing comments about Khan, who used his moment in the spotlight on the convention's first night, appearing alongside his wife Ghazala, to lash out against Trump and his stance on Muslim immigration amid fears of terrorism.

"If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have even been in America," Khan said with notable anger about his son. "He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. Donald Trump, you're asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?"

Khan, a Pakistani-American lawyer, punctuated his comments by holding up a small copy of the Constitution. He ended his speech: "You have have sacrificed nothing and no one."

He later appeared on CNN to describe Trump as a man with a "black soul."

Trump has defended his right to respond to Khan's public tongue-lashings.

Trump tweeted: "Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our 'leaders' to eradicate it!"

He followed that tweet up with another: "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!"

A day later, Trump refused to let go: "Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same  Nice!"

But other Republicans denounced Trump's comments as misguided and an affront to the military, and to those men and women who have bravely served.

Trump's campaign on Wednesday sought help from GOP allies in Congress to help guide the public discourse away from the Khan fracas, calling for assistance in an "urgent pivot." They asked surrogates to reach out to make statements in his defense, but it yielded little response.

However, on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan reaffirmed his support of Trump during an appearance on a Wisconsin radio station.