DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (AP) — So far this week, Donald Trump has careened from controversy to controversy, sparking headlines by escalating fights with a military family, his party’s top-elected official and, even, it seemed, a baby.
The Republican presidential nominee also claimed he’s always wanted a Purple Heart, gave an eyebrow-raising response to how his daughter would handle workplace sexual harassment, called his general election opponent “the devil,” threatened to undermine the nation’s tradition of peaceful democracy by suggesting the election could be rigged and collected a series of bipartisan denouncements that would stagger any other candidate for office.
Here’s a look at Trump’s week to date.
THE KHAN FAMILY
It was 7:10 a.m. Monday when Trump took to Twitter and fanned the flames of yet another potentially damaging political feud: his flap with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim-American family whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.
Khzir Khan took the stage at least week’s Democratic National Convention to accuse Trump of sacrificing “nothing and no one.” Trump, famous for never letting a slight go, hit back in an interview over the weekend — including by implying that soldier’s mother stood silently alongside her husband during the speech because her religion restricted her from speaking — and then returned to it on social media to start the week.
“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same – Nice!” he posted.
The back-and-forth between the nominee and the Khans soon escalated, prompting several top Republicans and The Veterans of Foreign Wars, a nonprofit service organization with 1.7 million members, to denounce Trump.
Trump, in Ohio Monday afternoon, suggested that he fears the general election “is going to be rigged” — an unprecedented assertion by a modern presidential candidate. His extraordinary claim — one he did not back up with any immediate evidence — would, if it became more than just an offhand comment, seem to threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process.
“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” he said.
The celebrity businessman — who has been known to dabble in conspiracy theories — has not elaborated. But he has repeated the assertion in interviews and also suggested that there were attempts to rig both parties’ primaries.
REFUSAL TO ENDORSE
Trump, in an interview Tuesday, declined to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republicans’ top-ranked official, and Sen. John McCain, its 2008 presidential nominee, in a sharp blow to GOP unity just two weeks after its national convention. Both are seeking re-election this fall.
“I’m just not there yet,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post, closely echoing Ryan’s demurral before he endorsed Trump, telling CNN on May 6, “I’m not there right now.”
Trump also unleashed a startling rebuke of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is also up for re-election this year. All three Republicans he criticized had denounced the nominee’s comments about the Khan family.
With controversy simmered over his remarks against a military family, Trump opened a rally in northern Virginia by accepting a Purple Heart from an audience member. Trump, who never served in the military, said it was “an honor” to receive the medal, which is given to soldiers wounded in combat.
“I always wanted to get the Purple Heart,” he said. “This was much easier.”
Trump in recent days has taken to categorizing Bernie Sanders’ decision to support Hillary Clinton a “deal with the devil.” But at a rally in Pennsylvania Monday night, he unleashed on the Democratic nominee directly. “She’s the devil,” he said.
WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARRASMENT
Trump suggested that if his daughter Ivanka were the victim of workplace sexual harassment she should find another job. In an interview published Monday in USA Today, the nominee continued to defend his friend Roger Ailes, who was ousted from his position as head of Fox News after charges of serial sexual harassment.
He added that it was “sad” that women were “complaining” about Ailes — and suggested that if his own daughter was harassed, “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.”
Trump was interrupted Tuesday in Virginia by the wails of a child — and the reality TV star joked that he wanted the crying baby ejected from his rally.
“I hear that baby crying, I like it. What a beautiful baby,” he said.
But when the baby continued to cry, Trump followed up by saying, “Actually, I was just kidding. You can get that baby out of here.”
It was unclear if Trump was still joking. The crying soon stopped.
Follow Jonathan Lemire on Twitter at: http://twiter.com/JonLemire