Donald Trump should apologize to the family of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, for his comments criticizing them, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Tuesday.

LITTLE ROCK — Donald Trump should apologize to the family of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, for his comments criticizing them, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Tuesday.

“I think the best course of action for him at this point is to express regret for what he said, to apologize and to move forward to focus on the real issues,” Cotton told reporters after giving a talk to the Political Animals Club in Little Rock.

The Republican presidential nominee has been critical of Khan’s parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, since their appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week. Cotton, an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, said Tuesday there are nearly 7,000 Gold Star families from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that “no one deserves our respect and and our honor more than they; no one deserves to be heard more than they.”

Cotton also said he continues to support Trump for president.

“I have spoken to Donald Trump on a couple of occasions in Washington when he’s visited with other senators and congressmen,” he said. “I’ve expressed the need to substantially increase our defense budget. I know he understands that, I know he’ll support that in his first 100 days. I know Hillary Clinton will not.”

Asked about Trump’s recent inaccurate comments about Ukraine, include a reference to it as a NATO country, which it is not, Cotton said, “I’m confident that Donald Trump will be well aware of who is in NATO and what our NATO obligations are by the time this election’s over.”

Cotton said he has disagreed with Trump on several issues, such as Trump’s statement that the U.S. should rethink its participation in NATO, but he supports Trump over the Democratic nominee because “I am confident that the American people will be safer and more prosperous with a Republican president and a Republican Congress.”

Cotton also has said in the past he disagreed with Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and Trump’s questioning of whether Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, deserves to be considered a hero.

The senator also said he supports building a fence along the border with Mexico but stopped short of endorsing Trump’s call for a border wall to be paid for by Mexico.

“There needs to be a physical barrier that is the outward expression of our inward determination to control our borders and enforce our immigration laws,” he said, adding that it should be a “joint financial effort” between the U.S. and Mexico.

Asked about the hack of the Democratic National Committee, Cotton said it is too soon to know whether Russia was behind it, as U.S. officials suspect.

“Russia certainly has the capability to do so, and they’ve got the demonstrated intents in other Western nations, so it’s something that has long concerned me before any of this news came to pass over the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“It’s something that I’ve monitored very closely as a member of the (Senate) Intelligence Committee. If it turns out that Russia or other nations did (the hacking), there have to be consequences for that action. This is not a matter of partisanship or electoral politics; it’s a matter of protecting America’s national security interests.”

Asked if it was appropriate for Trump to say he hopes Russia is able to hack Clinton’s emails, Cotton said, “I think Hillary Clinton’s decision to put classified information on a private server is much more serious than anything Donald Trump has said about it.”

Reporters asked Cotton if he plans to run for president in 2020 or 2024. Cotton said Republicans “are going to be re-electing a Republican president in four years” and said eight years is “a long ways off.”