Anti-Trump Republican McMullin announces presidential bid

McMullin

McMullin

A former CIA officer and congressional staffer on Monday launched a long-shot bid for president, a Republican billing himself as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump who disenchanted voters can rally around.

There is little chance that the newly announced candidate, Evan McMullin, could win and only a slight chance he will even be able to get his name on the ballots of key states. McMullin has no name recognition in the USA and was not even well known in Washington, where until Monday he was the Chief Policy Director for the Republican conference in the House of Representatives.

But that will not stop some conservatives from pitching him as an option in theNovember 8 election for those who never warmed to Trump and remain adamantly opposed to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Donald Trump appeals to the worst fears of Americans at a time we need unity, not division,” McMullin, 40, wrote in a “Letter to America” letter published on his new campaign website.

“Given his obvious personal instability, putting him in command of our military and nuclear arsenal would be deeply irresponsible,” he added. “His infatuation with strongmen and demagogues like Vladimir Putin is anathema to America values. We cannot and must not elect him.”

McMullin’s campaign was first reported by MSNBC and BuzzFeed.

Trump was formally anointed his party’s nominee last month after beating 16 rivals in the state-by-state primary contests. But many Republicans have been concerned about Trump’s policies, such as his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country, and his free-wheeling, often insulting rhetoric.

‘Authoritarian’ Trump

McMullin has long been an outspoken critic of Trump on social media, calling the businessman an “authoritarian”. He has also criticised Trump’s stance on civil rights, as well as his refusal to release his tax returns

McMullin has never held public office. In addition to lacking a quick source of campaign cash, he will face immediate hurdles to try to get his name on enough ballot papers to make himself a serious candidate.

Texas, for example, requires third-party candidates to get more than 79,000 signatures from residents who did not vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary. And the deadline for that was in early May.

Deadlines to get on the ballots have also lapsed for North Carolina, Illinois and Florida, all large states that also could be pivotal in the election.

A spoiler for Trump?

The best McMullin, who is a Mormon, could likely hope for would be to simply play spoiler to Trump in a handful of states, eating away at the New York real estate developer’s ability to win states that are generally reliably Republican.

McMullin would join two other third-party hopefuls – Gary Johnson, who was nominated by the Libertarian Party, and Jill Stein, who will represent the Green Party. In recent polls that included Trump, Clinton, Stein and Trump, the two third-party candidates have both struggled to get above 10 percentage points in the polls.

McMullin, according to his LinkedIn profile, has worked in Congress since 2013. Prior to working in Congress, McMullin spent 11 years as an operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Trump, meanwhile, was seeking to reset his campaign with a big economy policy speech on Monday after a rough patch last week. He was widely criticized, including by some senior Republicans, for engaging in a public dispute with the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq.