WASHINGTON -- Describing their party's presidential nominee as unqualified, dangerous and disgraceful, 30 former Republican lawmakers said Thursday that they oppose Donald Trump and won't vote for him in November.
The list includes former House members from every corner of the country, plus former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire.
Former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., who hasn't endorsed Trump, wasn't one of the signatories; no Arkansans added their names.
Thursday's statement doesn't address Trump's policy positions, focusing instead on his fitness to serve.
"Given the enormous power of the office, every candidate for president must be judged rigorously in assessing whether he or she has the competence, intelligence, knowledge, understanding, empathy, judgment, and temperament necessary to keep America on a safe and steady course. Donald Trump fails on each of those measures, and he has proven himself manifestly unqualified to be president," it said.
The former elected officials made no mention of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
"In nominating Donald Trump, the Republican Party has asked the people of the United States to entrust their future to a man who insults women, mocks the handicapped, urges that dissent be met with violence, seeks to impose religious tests for entry into the United States, and applies a de facto ethnicity test to judges. He offends our allies and praises dictators. His public statements are peppered with lies. He belittles our heroes and insults the parents of men who have died serving our country. Every day brings a fresh revelation that highlights the unacceptable danger in electing him to lead our nation," it continued.
"We urge our fellow Republicans not to vote for this man whose disgraceful candidacy is indefensible," it said. "We may differ on how we will cast our ballots in November but none of us will vote for Donald Trump."
Former U.S. Reps. Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma and Tom Coleman of Missouri said they drafted the letter and shared it with other ex-legislators; others quickly added their names.
At 57, Geoff Davis of Kentucky was the youngest signer. The oldest, G. William Whitehurst of Virginia, is 91. Most were in their 70s or 80s and have long ties to the GOP.
Some on the list had already stated their opposition to Trump. Other prominent Republicans, including several former Cabinet members, have also denounced him.
In an interview, Edwards, 79, said Trump poses a threat to the nation.
"This is a guy who gets easily irritated and lashes out, and this is a guy who would have access to nuclear weapons and control of the military," the former eight-term congressman said.
When it comes to picking a president, patriotism is more important than party loyalty, he said.
"I like the Republican Party. I agree with the Republican Party on most things, but I love my country more," he said. "The idea you have to support somebody who's as bad as he is just because he belongs to your club, I think, is nonsense."
In an interview, Coleman said he believes Trump is "dangerous."
"This guy is a troubled individual who is running a troubling campaign and I don't think he's emotionally or mentally fit to be president," he said.
Most Arkansas Republicans who once served in Congress argue that it's Clinton, not Trump, who would undermine the nation.
They're backing their party's nominee and his running mate, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Earlier this week, Trump announced that Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman, would serve as chairman of the Trump-Pence Arkansas Leadership Team. He is joined by all six current members of the Arkansas congressional delegation, plus Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who served in the U.S. House from 2011-2015. All are Republicans.
Hutchinson "believes the Trump-Pence ticket is the right choice for America right now," said Jon Gilmore, his political strategist.
Hutchinson's brother, former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, hasn't signed on to the Trump team.
"I'm not going to vote for Hillary Clinton," Tim Hutchinson said Thursday. "Beyond that, I'm uncommitted and undecided."
Former U.S. Rep. Ed Bethune didn't respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey said he'll support his party's nominee.
"I come down on the issue of abortion and I just can't get around it," he said. "[Trump] has at least said he'll be for life, for protecting the lives of the unborn. And that alone is the issue that determines where my vote is going to go."
In an interview, former U.S. Rep. Tommy Robinson said he supports Trump.
"She ought to be crucified and put up in jail," he said of Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton campaign declined to comment.
Appointed by Gov. Bill Clinton as the state director of the now defunct Department of Public Safety, he was summoned, he said, to the Governor's Mansion to intervene in arguments between Bill and Hillary Clinton.
A Section on 10/07/2016
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