BEIRUT: Unexpectedly, a Republican independent candidate, a conservative alternative to Donald Trump, has emerged, who though facing long odds remains an interesting addition to this year's US Presidential campaign.
His name is Evan McMullin, 40-years-old, a former CIA field agent, Goldman Sachs executive, and most recently a member of the senior congressional staff for the House Republican Conference.
McMullin is bona-fide conservative without any of the fringe Tea Party trappings that have come to define much of the Republican Party, and while facing an uphill challenge, he is completely in earnest about his candidacy. A native of Utah, he is Mormon and has the backing of key Mitt Romney supporters, though the 2012 GOP candidate has not made any formal endorsement of McMullin.
Romney famously called Trump a "fraud and a phony" this spring when the bombastic billionaire was still riding high, and few top Republicans were openly criticizing the New York businessman. Trump is not riding so high anymore, turning in truly disastrous poll results in the weeks after the GOP convention (which was a decided flop), and gaining increasing animosity from the Republican party establishment, particularly the conservative wing.
McMullin is squeaky clean, without the multiple bankruptcies, extramarital affairs, marriages and pending business lawsuits of Trump. Nor the verbal incoherence. And while lacking some of the shouting-appeal that stadium audiences like, his soft spoken nature displays a deep knowledge of global politics, key American domestic issues, and perhaps most importantly the US Constitution.
Trump has consistently shown a lack of knowledge in all the above, and is currently waffling on what was a signature part of his campaign, deporting 11 million illegal aliens, most of them part of the American workforce, and building a wall along the Mexican border. This suggest how ill informed he was to begin with about this (and other issues) during the entire course of his campaign. All along Trump has substituted applause lines while on stage instead of serious policy proposals.
Longtime Republican consultant Rick Wilson, along with Florida-based pollster and GOP operative Joel Searby are heading up McMullin's campaign staff. "A growing number of Americans are coming to the realization that Trump is more than just a political train wreck," Wilson wrote in a recent New York Post column. "He's a real threat to the nation..."
These two veteran campaign operatives are evolving a strategy to have McMullin listed on the ballot of as many states as possible. With Wilson saying that Americans should have a choice between "crazy" and "corrupt," in reference to Trump and Hillary Clinton. But there is little time left, and the McMullin campaign will have to be both adept and very lucky to gain placement on the ballots of most states.
As this writing in late August, McMullin has made the ballot in only four states: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana and Utah, so clearly there is much work to be done.
Even in losing, McMullin would like to save some of the reputation of the GOP which has been indelibly tarnished by the nomination of Trump, with the party facing possible loss of the Senate and downward electoral results for years to come. The Trump campaign is imploding and threatens to take the Republican Party with it.
But this isn't just a protest campaign, McMullin is offering a competent, alternative to the fiasco of Trump that will allow GOP voters the chance to pull the lever for someone who won't require holding their nose. Though only if McMullin makes it onto more ballots.
"In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it's time for a generation of new leadership to step up," McMullin told ABC News in a recent interview. "It's never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President."
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