US Representative Seth Moulton called on Republican lawmakers Tuesday to withdraw their endorsement of presidential nominee Donald Trump, contending he is a "maniac" and "trying to institutionalize racism against Muslims."
"His conduct and demeanor make him dangerously unfit to serve as president of the United States," said Moulton, a Salem Democrat.
The comments from Moulton, a marine captain who served four tours in Iraq, are the latest in a steady stream of criticism toward Trump's treatment of the family of a US soldier who died in combat. Also on Tuesday, President Obama called Trump "unfit" to be president.
Last week, Khizr Khan — father of Army Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 — spoke at the Democratic National Convention, where he blasted Trump, saying "you have sacrificed nothing" for the country. Trump responded by saying Khan's wife, Ghazala, who stood beside him, was not allowed to speak because of her faith.
Moulton, along with other members of the veterans community, rebuked Trump's comments on a press call organized by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign. Green Beret officer Jim Steiner, former Dean of the University of New Hampshire Law School Rear Admiral John Hutson, and Christine Vallone of Epping, N.H., whose son was deployed in Afghanistan and returned home safely, emphasized they think Trump would not be an able commander in chief.
Moulton said he is "calling on Republicans across the political spectrum to withdraw their endorsements of this maniac."
Moulton authored a letter, along with two other House Democrats who served in the military, to House Speaker Paul Ryan asking him to withdraw his endorsement of Trump, according to CNN. Moulton has also signed a letter to Trump along with about 40 0thers calling his comments toward the Khan family "unacceptable," according to the Washington Post.
"You don't attack or insult a gold star family," Steiner said.
He added: "What I heard from Mr. Trump demonstrates him being a bully."
Hutson said he thought Trump's rhetoric "emboldens the enemy." He referenced Trump's recent comment that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a better leader than President Obama, and Trump's indication he might not automatically defend America's NATO allies.
"He is completely unreliable and in my opinion Donald Trump just being a candidate undermines our national security," Hutson said.
Vallone said she empathized with Ghazala Khan, who on July 31 published an opinion piece in The Washington Post titled "Trump criticized my silence. He knows nothing about true sacrifice." Vallone said had her son died in combat, she would not have been able to speak, either.
"I really have tried to understand Mr. Trump's response and I just can't, I can't understand it," Vallone said.
Meg Bernhard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meg_bernhard.