- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called Donald Trump’s criticism of the family of an American soldier killed in Iraq “inappropriate,” and a former aide who shaped Christie’s national image announced she will vote for Hillary Clinton.

Christie, who is leading Trump’s transition team, addressed for the first time the Republican presidential nominee’s feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan. Their son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2004.

Christie called the pain of losing a child unfathomable and said that whether the Khans are right or wrong, he would avoid criticizing them.

“The Khans have a right to say whatever it is they want regarding the loss of their son and for all the Gold Star families out there they have put forward a sacrifice that I cannot fathom as a parent,” Christie said. “It’s just inappropriate for us in this context to be criticizing them, and I’m not going to participate.”

Khizr Khan gave an emotional tribute to his son last week at the Democratic National Convention that was also heavily critical of Trump. Trump responded saying Khan did not have a right to question whether he had read the Constitution.

His comments came a few hours before Maria Comella, Christie’s former communication chief, told CNN that Trump was a “demagogue” and said that merely opposing his nomination was not enough. She encouraged other Republicans to abandon Trump and support Clinton as well.

“I’m voting for her because I don’t believe it’s enough to say you aren’t for Donald Trump,” she said. “There are times when principle trumps (no pun intended) party and we have to be OK with acknowledging that.”

Comella served as Christie’s communication chief from 2009 until earlier this year. A mostly behind-the-scenes adviser, Comella was responsible for crafting Christie’s image as a tell-it-like-it-is official through social media and YouTube.

She resigned after his presidential campaign ended after a poor finish in New Hampshire.

Other New Jersey Republicans, including former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, have been critical of Trump.

Christie also responded to comments by President Barack Obama earlier Tuesday that Trump isn’t qualified to be president. The governor said that it’s the president who has disqualified himself from giving comments like that because he said last week that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person in American history to be president.

He also disagreed with Trump on whether Clinton is the devil, a remark the candidate made Monday.

“No,” Christie said. “But she’s unqualified to be president of the United States.”

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