GOP rep: Gary Johnson can win
© Moriah Ratner

Rep. Scott RigellEdward (Scott) Scott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE (R-Va.) says he thinks Libertarian Party nominee Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonAmash won't rule out Libertarian challenge to Trump Buzz grows Amash will challenge Trump as a Libertarian Potential GOP primary challenger: Trump's 'contempt for the American people' behind possible bid MORE can win the presidency.

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"This may surprise you to hear, but I'm ready to defend the proposition that Gov. Johnson can win," Rigell said Wednesday on CNN.

Rigell, who is retiring at the end of his term, announced earlier this month that he is backing Johnson and snubbing GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE.

Rigell noted Wednesday that if Johnson can get enough support in polls to make the debate stage, it could set off a positive chain reaction for him.

"No one saw Trump winning the nomination, at least early on," he said. "And I believe the same type of unusual, real anomalies and the forces that are coming against our country are present now in this election, the general election."

Rigell said Americans are not happy with Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally It's about the delegates, stupid MORE as the two major-party options. 

"The level of dissatisfaction with the two nominees is so wide, and it's so intense," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."

He added that he can't vote for Trump "in good conscience" and thinks Clinton is "equally unacceptable." 

"I think it's not going to take votes from simply the Republican ticket, though it will. It's going to take votes from the Democratic ticket," Rigell said of voters flocking to Johnson.

"And I think that there's a pent-up demand that'll surprise a lot of people on Election Day."