Republicans opposed to Donald Trump are making a last-ditch effort to put forth an alternative to the GOP presidential nominee.
Evan McMullin, a onetime chief policy director for House Republicans and a former CIA officer, is launching an independent presidential campaign with the help of political group Better for America.
Blasting Trump as personally unstable and “a real threat to our Republic,” McMullin said on his website that he felt compelled to run as an independent.
“With the stakes so high for our nation and at this late stage in the process, I can no longer stand on the sidelines,” McMullin wrote. “Our country needs leaders who are in it for the right reasons and who actually understand what makes this country the greatest on earth. Leaders who will unite us and guide us to a prosperous, secure future, beyond the dysfunction of a broken political system.”
In an interview with ABC News shortly after announcing, McMullin said that both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were unacceptable.
“Look, Donald Trump is defeating himself. He is ensuring that Hillary Clinton is elected,” he told ABC. “I think they would both be absolutely terrible.”
McMullin called Trump inhuman and an authoritarian who does not care about anyone but himself.
“I do believe he is a fraud and a con man and that’s not something I say lightly,” he continued.
McMullin also said he is strongly anti-abortion, calling it “a test of our humanity” and that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.
To say McMullin has an uphill battle ahead of him is an understatement. The deadline for filing as an independent presidential candidate has already passed in 26 states. But with three months left until the general election, some members of the GOP’s anti-Trump movement are nonetheless rallying behind the “Hail Mary” alternative.
Rick Wilson, a veteran Republican strategist who’s working with McMullin, said his phone’s been ringing off the hook from “big time” donors and volunteers looking to assist with the former House operative’s bid.
“We don’t have a Death Star of operations like Hillary Clinton or the celebrity of Donald Trump,” Wilson said. “But can we put a campaign together that gets on enough ballots? Yes. Can we raise the money? Yes, we can.”
“A lot people have been looking for an alternative to the disaster on both sides,” Wilson continued, argued that there’s rare opening thanks to both Clinton and Trump’s high unavailability ratings.
“The money is coming. Americans are responding very quickly,” McMullin told ABC News.
Although McMullin starts out virtually unknown to the general public, he has a lengthy history in government work. He spent 11 years working at the CIA as an undercover operations officer in several conflict zones in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Before working at the CIA, he spent a year as a volunteer refugee resettlement officer in the Middle East and Africa for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Earlier in May, he gave a Tedx Talk at London’s Business School discussing genocide and how individuals and companies can help to end it.
For the past three years, he’s worked on foreign affairs, national security and women’s empowerment policy for the House Republican Conference, though an aide said he was no longer an employee there.
“The House Republican Conference has zero knowledge of his intentions,” said Nate Hodson, a spokesman for the House Republican Conference.
McMullin’s work as a policy director could strike a chord with those worried about Trump’s lack of political and policy experience, even though McMullin himself has never held a position in public office.
“He isn’t corrupt and he isn’t crazy. He’s an accomplished guy who’s served this country,” Wilson argued.
Conservatives opposed to Trump have been trying to find an alternative for some time now, but McMullin is the only one who has actually gone through with a candidacy. National Review‘s David French had been mulling a bid and had the backing of the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol. But in June he decided to pass.