The list of named presidential candidates in Arkansas has grown to eight with former CIA operative Evan McMullin officially nominated to run as the Better for America candidate.
McMullin, 40, is a former chief policy director for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and a former CIA operative who announced earlier this month that he was running as an independent. His vice presidential candidate is Nathan Johnson.
Better for America was started by John Kingston, a conservative donor and Mitt Romney ally, in hopes of attracting an alternative to Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
In a phone interview with Talk Business & Politics, McMullen acknowledged that he cannot get on enough ballots to gain the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. His campaign is working to attain ballot access where it can, including using legal avenues.
His goal is to deny Clinton and Trump that 270-vote majority by winning where he can, though he doesn’t know where that will be. He said one poll in Utah, his home state and the headquarters of his campaign, showed him with 9% support. Barring that, a possible path to victory would be for Trump to lose Republican Party support or for his campaign to implode.
He said he had named a national finance chair and is engaging with mega-donors and he is raising money from “regular Americans and people who are maxing out as well.” He said he didn’t know what kind of effort his campaign will be making in Arkansas.
“Anywhere where we’re actually going to appear on the ballot is going to be an important state for us,” he said.
McMullin described himself as “the only conservative in the race” and the only one who sincerely supports gun rights, is pro-life and is pro-trade.
“Donald Trump is not a conservative,” he said. “He doesn’t share any of those values, really. They may be convenient political positions for him in this race, but this is who I actually am. So that’s the kind of case that we’ll be making to the people of Arkansas.”
He said he is entering the race because of his deep opposition to Trump and Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton is absolutely corrupt,” he said. “Donald Trump I believe is totally unqualified and a guy who’s been co-opted by Vladimir Putin, and whether he realizes it or not, he’s got all kinds of troubling ties to the Kremlin, as do many of his team members. I mean, this is not a guy who should be in the Oval Office and should be leading the free world. Hillary Clinton also is totally unfit for that role.”
He said he started considering running for president about a month ago when he looked into the Better for America option and discovered that no big names had stepped forward.
“After a week and a half of considering it, I decided that it had to be done and that if no one else would do it, then I would step up and do it,” he said. He later added, “Yes, it would be great if I had national name I.D., but I don’t have that, and the people who did have national name I.D. didn’t want to step forward, so there you are.”
Chris Powell, spokesperson for Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin, confirmed that the office had received Better for America’s paperwork Wednesday. Earlier that day, McMullin tweeted, “Got word last night we’ve been nominated by Better for America Party of Arkansas as their POTUS (president of the United States) candidate! We’re working on finalizing.”
The news comes a day before the Aug. 25 deadline for certifying candidates.
Other candidates for president are Libertarian Gary Johnson; Green Party candidate Jill Stein; Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle; independent Tom Hoefling, a founder of America’s Party; and Dr. Lynn Kahn, an independent.