According to BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins, McMullin’s bid is supported by “key players in the GOP’s anti-Trump movement,” and appears designed to split off votes in states like Idaho, Texas and Utah, where McMullin was born and went to college, and anywhere else Gary Johnson had a shot at picking up a few votes.
McMullin, the 40-year-old chief policy director of the House Republican conference, has never held political office. A graduate of Brigham Young University and the Wharton School of Business, McMullin’s brief bio also includes a Mormon mission and stints in the CIA and Goldman Sachs. At the time the BuzzFeed story went to press, he had just 135 followers on Twitter (that number has since jumped to 1,752.)
According to ABC, his bid was arranged by the anti-Trump group, Better for America, which spent months searching for an appropriate candidate and is prepared to back him financially. They are also reportedly prepared to give legal cover in states like Texas, where he might have to sue to get on the ballot at such a late stage in the election.
McMullin is not the first unknown conservative to have his name floated as a potential challenger to Trump—we have Bill Kristol to blame for that—but according to BuzzFeed, McMullin will file his papers today around noon. BuzzFeed also reports McMullin will have “the backing of serious Republican donors and fundraisers” to help him mount a challenge to Trump in several key states.
McMullin appeared to confirm the rumors to ABC in an exclusive statement, pretending his candidacy is anything other than a way to push Trump down in conservative states:
“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 said. “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.”