DNC Gold Star dad: Anti-Ossoff ad invoking Syrian refugees ‘un-American’

WASHINGTON – One of the breakout stars from last summer’s Democratic National Convention had strong words for the National Republican Congressional Committee and its latest ad invoking Syrian refugees to attack 6th District Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father whose emotional speech in Philadelphia and subsequent rebuke from then-candidate Donald Trump made him a national figure, said the NRCC’s latest television foray was “extremely disturbing.”

“The rhetoric in this ad is dangerous. And frankly it’s un-American,” Khan said in a statement.

Khan was referring to a recently-released NRCC spot that warns,“ISIS is infiltrating America, and is using Syrians to do it" -- a statement PolitiFact later rated as "false." The ad goes on to question the country's screening process for Syrian refugees, Democrats' calls to admit them and Ossoff's support of the Iran nuclear deal. "Jon Ossoff is just too risky," the spot concludes.

Ossoff dismissed the ad yesterday as “over the top” and said the NRCC was “fear-mongering.” His campaign was also quick to issue a TV response, which referenced his background as a documentary film producer.

Khan said Karen Handel, Ossoff's Republican opponent, needed to call out the NRCC and speak out against "fear mongering."

“This bigoted rhetoric … has become a main feature of our political discourse," he said in an interview Friday, citing a recent fatal stabbing incident on a train in Portland, Ore., as a recent example. "It is disturbing."

Handel's campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Maddie Anderson, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, said the group "deeply respects the Khan family and the sacrifice Captain Khan made for our country," referring to Khizr Khan's son.

"Terrorists are hell bent on destroying the very ideals our service members fought to protect, and Jon Ossoff's liberal positions on national security would put us at risk," Anderson said. "This race is about who best can keep Georgians safe."

Syria is one of six Muslim-majority countries that Trump sought to temporarily ban visitors and refugees from in a pair of executive orders earlier this year. The White House said the "pause" was needed while the administration boosted its vetting process to protect against terror attacks. Both orders have been held up in court, but the administration quietly moved to raise its refugee quota over the weekend.

Khan, a Muslim and Pakistani-American, came to prominence after he spoke at the DNC about his son, who was killed by a suicide bomber while serving a tour in Iraq in 2004. He's since been making the rounds against Trump's travel ban, but the longtime American citizen raised eyebrows after he cancelled an appearance in Canada and alleged his "travel privileges" were under review.

Khan said he supports Ossoff and hopes to visit the 6th District before voters hit the polls on June 20.

Read more: 

Syrian refugees in the Sixth become a focus of GOP attack on Jon Ossoff

Georgians brace as Trump looks to tighten refugee vetting process

Escaping to Atlanta, Syrians worry the door will be shut behind them

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is a senior reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's enterprise team, where she covers gender, the urban-rural divide and other...