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Iowa Republicans must stand on principle, not partisanship

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Confrontation with political opponents and the media helped Donald Trump rise in the primaries and claim the Republican Party’s nomination.

Voters repeatedly have expressed admiration for the businessman, even as he engages in tactics once taboo. Throughout it all, GOP officials have accepted or tolerated reckless statements beyond the bounds of civility, any one of which would have seriously damaged a past candidate’s chances. They fear losing the White House, damaging the party or hurting their careers.

Nonetheless, there comes a time when fear must give way to courage, when looking the other way is not only unacceptable but an indelible stain on principle.

Trump once again has disparaged a military family. This time, his ire was directed at civilians, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Gold Star parents who had the audacity to speak against Trump’s proposed immigration policies while honoring their fallen son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan.

Initially, Trump showed emotional immaturity by questioning if the Khans’ Muslim faith prohibited Ghazala from speaking. He then labeled the speech a “vicious attack” and equated his difficulty in the business sector to the ultimate sacrifice borne by military families.

Instead of showing empathy or an ounce of compassion, Trump sought to belittle, insult and dismiss the parents of an officer killed by a car bomb in Iraq. Perhaps this shouldn’t be all that shocking, considering how Trump insisted POWs aren’t heroes. His disrespect seems to know no bounds.

Gov. Terry Branstad, an Army veteran, says Trump’s reaction is only “a mistake” of the political variety. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a lieutenant colonel who retired from the Iowa National Guard last year, praised Gold Star families but ignored Trump’s actions. Both endorsed Trump’s candidacy. at events in Iowa this week.

U.S. Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, followed Ernst’s lead. Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley noted disagreement about “how the members of the military and their families should be treated” before ducking behind partisanship.

U.S. Reps. Rod Blum and Steve King, also Republicans said nothing.

This is no longer a primary contest in which silence and sidestepping are acceptable. Iowans need to know who is courageous enough to shirk partisanship and stand on principle.

• Gazette editorials reflect the consensus opinion of The Gazette Editorial Board. Share your comments and ideas with us: (319) 398-8469; editorial@thegazette.com

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