WASHINGTON -- Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) urged his fellow Republicans to pick anyone but Donald Trump in the primary elections, adding that he refuses to back the real estate mogul even if Trump becomes the GOP nominee for president.
Rigell emailed his supporters on Tuesday, the day Virginia's primary voters head to the polls.
"Trump is a bully, unworthy of our nomination," Rigell wrote. "My love for our country eclipses my loyalty to our party, and to live with a clear conscience I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgement, temperament and character needed to be our nation's commander-in-chief. Accordingly, if left with no alternative, I will not support Trump in the general election should he become our Republican nominee."
The third-term congressman, who has announced that he's not running for re-election, pointed to Trump's recent refusal to disavow former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, his admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his frequent hurling of insults at the other candidates.
"Never before have I grabbed a word like catastrophic to make a political point," Rigell wrote. "It's like pulling a fire alarm; if you do it, there had better be a fire. There is a fire and it's raging within our Republican party. I am convinced that if Donald Trump becomes our nominee, the harm done to our party would be nothing short of catastrophic."
Republicans are becoming increasingly worried that Trump remains their front-runner and could clinch the nomination.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the first sitting senator to say he will not back Trump even if he becomes the nominee, releasing a statement on Sunday that was similar to Rigell's.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not publicly disavowed Trump, but The New York Times reported that McConnell has come up with a plan for lawmakers to break with Trump if he gets the nomination.
Trump also received his first congressional endorsements this week, when Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) backed him.
Rigell's full open letter:
Never before have I grabbed a word like catastrophic to make a political point. It's like pulling a fire alarm; if you do it, there had better be a fire. There is a fire and it's raging within our Republican party. I am convinced that if Donald Trump becomes our nominee, the harm done to our party would be nothing short of catastrophic.
I reject Trump as our nominee based on his judgement, temperament and character, all of which point to a reckless, embarrassing and ultimately dangerous presidency.
Just this past Sunday, Trump's poor judgment was on display. He failed not once, not twice, but three times to denounce the KKK and its onetime leader, the infamous racist, David Duke. Looking a bit confused when asked about the KKK and Duke, Trump pleaded ignorance. What void must exist in the heart of a person who when asked about the KKK has to struggle for even a moment as to what his position is? And what void must be present in the mind of a would-be president who is unapologetic in quoting Mussolini and states publicly that he admires Putin?
Perhaps it is because Putin is a dictator. Trump's pledge that he will build a wall and make Mexico pay for it certainly reflects a dictator's mindset. Mexico will not pay for a wall, nor should it, and it's reckless for Trump to make that claim.
Through these and other bizarre statements we have come to know Trump. We have seen how he draws from a putrid well in making his case for his candidacy. He rarely debates but chooses instead to belittle. On the trail he caricatured the physical challenges that a respected reporter has to overcome every day of his life. The terms he used in reference to a female news anchor cannot be printed here, nor are they uttered in my home.
So what kind of role model would Trump be to the next generation of Republicans? Short on ideas? Belittle your adversary! Need an edge on the disadvantaged? Mock them! Want others to think you're a strong leader when running for a party leadership position? Just keeping jabbing your finger in your opponent's face! Have differences with a veteran? Challenge his honor and service to our country!
It all leads to one clear, irrefutable conclusion: Trump is a bully, unworthy of our nomination. My love for our country eclipses my loyalty to our party, and to live with a clear conscience I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgement, temperament and character needed to be our nation's commander-in-chief. Accordingly, if left with no alternative, I will not support Trump in the general election should he become our Republican nominee.
An impostor has slipped through the net. Trump is not a Republican. Unlike Trump, the true Republican party is good, decent and fair. Unlike Trump, the true Republican party believes we can love our neighbor while fighting for our country.
My fellow Republicans, how much more must we see to know that his heart does not reflect our values and creed? How much more must we hear of his flip-flops on issues fundamental to our party to know that his convictions run shallow?
Everything I have learned in life about leadership, about business, and about our incredible country tells me to pull every alarm in the house. A con man is among us. With great respect I implore you, my fellow Republicans, to vote for any candidate but Donald Trump.
Editor's note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist,