Kirk: Respect Muslim Gold Star family, don't let Syrian refugees in

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has in recent months blasted Donald Trump for being "too bigoted and racist" to lead the nation.

He reiterated that call Tuesday in Arlington Heights, where he suggested the business tycoon "back off" criticizing the Muslim parents of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed by a bomb in Iraq and whose father delivered an emotional speech at last week's Democratic National Convention.

At the same time, Kirk is calling for a moratorium on Syrian refugees' entry into the United States. He says those two stances are neither contradictory nor xenophobic.

Kirk, addressing suburban chambers of commerce at European Crystal banquets in Arlington Heights, blasted his opponent, Hoffman Estates Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, for calling for resettling a large number of Syrian refugees in the United States.

"I think there's a unique danger we pose to ourselves," Kirk said. "We shouldn't do what Europe does and let them all in."

Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl elaborated on that point, saying Kirk wants to pause the system until refugees "can be safely vetted" and national intelligence can guarantee the vetting process will screen out terrorists.

Meanwhile, Kirk said Trump "just needs to lay off" his criticism of Khan's parents.

"We know the worst thing to happen to a family is to lose a child," he said. "I want Trump to be more accepting of Gold Star families. Because they have given."

Khizr Khan's address to delegates in Philadelphia has gone viral in recent days, with the immigration attorney noting that if it "was up to Donald Trump," his son would "never have been in America."

Humayun, who aspired to be a military lawyer, was killed in 2004 while guarding his Army unit. "Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims," Khizr Khan said.

Trump has called for outlawing immigrants from areas of the world with a history of terrorism as part of his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.

He later tweeted that Khan was a hero, but the issue was about "radical Islamic terror and the weakness of our 'leaders' to eradicate it."

Duckworth deputy campaign manager Matt McGrath Tuesday said Kirk was "running a campaign every bit as divisive and dishonest as Trump's. It's also based on fear-mongering and scapegoating that makes us less safe."

The Kirk-Duckworth race is viewed as one of the most competitive in the country as Democrats seek to reclaim control of the Senate majority next year.

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  U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk discusses national security with members of suburban chambers of commerce in Arlington Heights. Mark Welsh/
  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is calling for a temporary moratorium on letting Syrian refugees into the country until "they can be safely vetted." Mark Welsh/
  U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk greets Tricia O' Brien, president of the Hoffman Estates Chamber of Commerce, in Arlington Heights on Tuesday. Mark Welsh/
Tammy Duckworth
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