'I am appalled': 2 prominent Republicans delivered blistering rebukes of Trump's attacks on the Khan family

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GOP Politicians Side With the Khans but Ignore Trump's Insults

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire delivered blistering rebukes of Donald Trump on Sunday for his attacks against the family of slain Muslim American soldier Humayun Khan, who was killed serving the US during the Iraq War.

"This is going to a place where we've never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen," Graham said in a statement to ABC. "There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics – that you don't do – like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier even if they criticize you."

SEE ALSO: Muslim soldier's family slams Donald Trump's diss of DNC speech: 'Shame on him'

Graham, who was at one time a 2016 presidential hopeful, has not endorsed Trump.

"If you're going to be the leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism," the South Carolina Republican said. "Mr. Trump can't. The problem is, 'unacceptable' doesn't even begin to describe it."

See photos of Captain Khan and his family:

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Khizr Khan, whose son, Humayun S. M. Khan was one of 14 American Muslims who died serving in the U.S. Army in the 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, offers to loan his copy of the Constitution to Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, as he speaks while a relative looks on during the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Captain Humayun Khan, died while serving his country in 2004. 

(Photo credit Khizr M. Khan)

Khizr Khan walks off stage after speaking about his son US Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq 12 years ago, on the final night of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Khizr Khan, who's son Humayun (L) was killed serving in the U.S. Army, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Khizr Khan, father of Humayun S. M. Khan who was killed while serving in Iraq with the US Army, speaks during the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center on July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 28: Khizr Khan, father of deceased Muslim U.S. Soldier Humayun S. M. Khan, holds up a booklet of the US Constitution as he delivers remarks on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Khizr Khan, whose son Humayun S. M. Khan was one of 14 US Muslims who died serving the United States in the ten years after 9/11 speaks during the final day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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Ayotte, who's said she will vote for Trump, said she was "appalled" by the Republican nominee's attacks. The New Hampshire senator's husband is an Iraq War veteran.

"There is no greater sacrifice than to lay down one's life for their country, and that's the sacrifice that Captain Humayun Khan made fighting to defend our freedom and our constitutional rights," Ayotte said in a statement. "He was a true American hero. The Khan family deserves nothing less than our deepest support, respect, and gratitude, and they have every right to express themselves in any way they choose."

"I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family," she continued.

SEE ALSO: Mother of Muslim-American war hero pens emotional op-ed criticizing Trump

Trump suggested Sunday morning that he could not understand why he was earning scorn for questioning the pair of Gold Star parents who slammed him during a speech before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday.

"I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention," the Republican nominee for president asked in a tweet. "Am I not allowed to respond?"

Khizr and wife Ghazala Khan, the parents of Humayun, offered a powerful rebuke of Trump on the final night of the DNC.

Watch Khizr Khan's original remarks to Trump:
Khan to Trump: 'Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?'

In an eight-minute speech, delivered by Khizr, the family questioned whether the real estate magnate had ever read the US Constitution or sacrificed anything for his country.

Trump hit back on Saturday, suggesting Ghazala was not permitted to speak because of her Muslim religion. The billionaire further argued that he had indeed sacrificed for his country, saying he created jobs.

Trump's remarks were widely condemned and the billionaire eventually began walking them back. In a Saturday night statement, he called the Khan's son a "hero to our country" and tried to shift the issue to "the real problem" which he argued was "the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him."

Khizr Khan said Sunday that Trump's questions about his wife represent the "height of ignorance."

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Activists hold a banner against Hillary Clinton amid protest outside the Wells Fargo Center on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
An opponent of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a sign during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Bernie Sanders supporters protest U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Protesters wearing masks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump march with a group of cannabis advocates down Broad Street toward the Wells Fargo Center on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
A former Bernie Sanders delegate wears a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign sticker over his mouth as he protests during the third session at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Pennsylvania State Troopers face off with Bernie Sanders supporters and delegates outside of the convention arena after they stormed off the convention floor in protest when Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination during the second day at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Signs of support for Hillary Clinton and protest signs are seen on the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center on July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up signs in protest as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, July 28, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Locher)
TOPSHOT - A protester stands with his mouth gagged with the American flag at a rally of support for former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and protest against Hillary Clinton's nomination during the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Patrick T. Fallon (Photo credit should read PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images)
Delegates watch as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Ghazala Khan also wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post saying she didn't speak at the DNC because she finds it too painful to think about her son.

"Without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain," she wrote.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, pushed out a statement late Sunday in an attempt to clear up the attacks.

Pence said he and Trump believe Khan "is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American."

RELATED: Republicans and democrats disagree on how the next president should talk about Islamic extremists

"Captain Khan gave his life to defend our country in the global war on terror," the Indiana governor, who is Trump's running mate, wrote. "Due to the disastrous decisions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a once stable Middle East has now been overrun by ISIS. This must not stand."

"By suspending immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, rebuilding our military, defeating ISIS at its source and projecting strength on the global stage, we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family," he said. "Donald Trump will support our military and their families and we will defeat the enemies of our freedom."

Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.

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