Perry: Khizr Khan shouldn't have expected 'free ride'
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The father of a fallen Muslim-American soldier should not have expected a “free ride” after criticizing Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE at the Democratic National Convention, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday. 

Perry said Trump had a right to push back at Khizr Khan, who in a dramatic moment at the convention pulled out a pocket-sized version of the Constitution to illustrate his argument that the Republican nominee lacked understanding of the nation’s founding principles.

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“Mr. Khan is the one who went out and struck the first blow,” Perry said on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" Tuesday. “In a campaign, if you are going to go out and think you can take a shot and somebody and not have incoming coming back at you, shame on you.”

Perry, a veteran himself, went on to praise Gold Star families, the term for those who lost a family member in military combat. But he said Democrats opened Khan up to criticism by putting him in a political role. 

“I think the Democrats used him in a way, quite frankly, I'm not sure I approve of. We love our veterans, we love our Gold Star families, but the fact of the matter is Mr. Khan politically used his time on the stage to go after Donald Trump," he said.  

“Why in the world he thought he was going to get a free ride with that is beyond me. He shouldn't get a free ride when he's going to inject himself in the political arena.” 

Days after Khan’s appearance at the convention, Trump questioned why Khan’s wife didn’t speak. The billionaire businessman later in the context of sacrifices the Khan family has made to the country discussed jobs he had created through his construction projects. 

Trump’s comments were widely panned by political figures in both parties, and have been blamed in part for his fall in national and battleground state polls.

Perry had previously been a vocal critic of Trump during the GOP primary, going as far to cast him as a “cancer on conservatism.” But he's softened his tone over the past few months, and endorsed Trump in May.