Carson City’s Catherine Byrne drew national attention Monday when she challenged Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for supporting Donald Trump even after Trump was accused of disrespecting a Muslim family who lost their son in Iraq.
“My question is when is enough enough,” said Byrne, whose son Raymond, 27, was just deployed to the Persian Gulf. “I’m hoping at least that that dialog is coming.”
During the vice presidential nominee’s campaign stop, Byrne asked Pence how he could tolerate what she said was Trump’s disrespect for American service members.
Trump, during the weekend, heavily criticized Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber on June 8, 2004. The comments came after Khizr Khan criticized Trump for suggesting to freeze the entry of foreign Muslims into the U.S. and accused him of making no sacrifices for his country during the Democratic National Convention last week. The Republican nominee for president challenged that assertion and also implied Ghazala Khan’s religion prevented her from speaking.
The backlash from the crowd at the Carson Nugget to Byrne’s question was fast and loud, booing, with one woman demanding to know why she was even there.
Byrne noted Pence himself defused the anger from the crowd, telling the crowd she was exercising her freedom of speech.
“Folks, that’s what freedom looks like; that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said.
He said he had nothing but respect for the Kahn family’s lost son and his service, and respect for the family’s loss.
“We honor him and his family,” he said Monday.
On Wednesday after appearing on national television, Byrne still was seeking an answer to her question.
“I was really getting thunder from the room,” Byrne said. “I thought he was very respectful of me personally but I don’t think he did much to answer the question.
“The crowd turned on me so quickly. I thought this is a town hall. Isn’t that where you meet in a hall and ask questions?”
Byrne said Pence or a more volatile politician like Trump, “could have gone the other way.”
She said the question remains: “How can you stand by someone so disrespectful? But the crowd answered that.”
Byrne said Trump’s “hypocrisy and bigotry” upset her months ago, but the attacks on the Khan family “make me very angry.”
“I don’t know what point we’re going to reach but it seems week after week it just gets worse,” she said. “We’ve got to stop trying to get him to be more presidential. Lets stop attacking him and lets ask the people who are backing him ‘why are you doing this, why?’”
Before she made the comments, she asked her son’s permission to use his name. But she said she hasn’t had a chance to talk to him since and get his reaction.
Byrne said her son is fully aware of how outspoken she is.