- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas’ freshman U.S. senator, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Tuesday Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should apologize for criticizing the parents of an American soldier killed by a roadside bomb 12 years ago.

Khizr Khan, in a tribute to his son at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, criticized Trump and said the GOP nominee sacrificed nothing. Trump in turn said he was “viciously attacked” by Khan, and questioned why Khan’s wife stood silent during her husband’s speech.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said the Khans, as parents of a fallen solder, had earned the “utmost respect,” but that the back-and-forth between Trump and the Khans kept the campaign from moving on.

“I think he should express his regret and apologize for what he said to the Khans,” Cotton said after speaking to about 150 people at the Political Animals Club in Little Rock.

After a series of comments about Mexicans, Muslims, a handicapped journalist and parents of a dead soldier - among other inflammatory remarks - Cotton wouldn’t say when enough is enough. He likened Trump’s comments to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s remarks about computer equipment kept at her home.

“I mean, she told five different lies about her email server and then this weekend she lied about the lies that she told,” Cotton said.

The Republican freshman senator is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He told those gathered for his address that failures in the intelligence community become well-known, but that its successes must remain a national secret.

With reporters, Cotton said he disagreed with Trump on how to handle NATO members who have not fully funded the alliance.

“I agree, as do many Democrats, that our European allies in NATO need to spend more money,” Cotton said. “I strongly disagree that the solution is to not honor our commitment to those countries.” Failing to help a NATO member, Cotton said, would embolden U.S. adversaries.

“I am confident that Donald Trump will be well aware of who he is in NATO and what our NATO obligations are by the time this election occurs,” Cotton said.

Responding to a question from the audience about this year’s choices at the top of the ticket, Cotton said, “you don’t get to order off the menu.” He said the GOP’s needs over the next three months extended beyond the unity it sought at its Cleveland convention.

“We can’t just have party unity. We have to have party growth,” he said, noting that independents and others, including some Democrats, would have to back Trump if Republicans are to take back the White House.

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Follow Kelly P. Kissel on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kisselAP and find his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/kelly-p-kissel

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