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Evan McMullin Calls Himself 'The Only Conservative' In Presidential Race


Let's go back to presidential politics for a minute. You've heard a lot about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton these past months. You may also have heard on this program and others about Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. But there's another candidate who's gaining ground. A recent poll in the Deseret News shows Evan McMullin in a, quote, "statistical dead heat" with Clinton and Trump in Utah. So we thought this was a good time to hear what Evan McMullin has to say. Mr. McMullin, thanks so much for speaking with us.

EVAN MCMULLIN: Thank you. Great to be with you, Michel.

MARTIN: What do you offer in this race that the other candidates do not?

MCMULLIN: Well, by way of a brief background on me - I am a 11-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency. I worked in the private sector in the financial industry as well. And then most recently, I served as a senior adviser on national security issues in Congress and then ultimately was the chief policy director for the House Republicans. So I'm the only conservative, sadly, in this race now.

And I stand for limited government and for individual liberty, and I saw in this election that the choices that the two major party candidates offered, as well as other candidates in the race, weren't sufficient or weren't adequate for our country and for the American people. So a couple of months ago, I decided seeing that no one else would get into the race to offer the American people a better choice, I decided to get in and try to do just that.

MARTIN: So I want to talk about the politics of this or the logistics of this in a minute. But after all that's happened - and we've talked to a number of people who share your conservative views on a number of issues - they still say they support Donald Trump after everything that's come out recently because they say that he says he's pro-life which is to say he favors restrictions on abortion and he will appoint pro-life judges. What do you say to people who have that argument?

MCMULLIN: Well, I think Donald Trump is just not trustworthy whatsoever. I mean, he has spent his entire life being in favor of late-term abortions and opposed to the Second Amendment and has even spoken in favor of single-payer healthcare, even in this election. He's defended Planned Parenthood, even in this election. And Donald Trump is not someone who can be trusted. This is a man who does not stand for anything other than himself, so the notion that he would appoint Supreme Court justices who are constitutional conservatives, I think, is a real stretch to put it mildly.

He's also said his sister would make a great justice. And she is certainly not a constitutional conservative. She's quite liberal, in fact. He's just not somebody who has any credibility on these issues. He is a big government-type of person, just like Hillary Clinton. And I am, I believe, truly the only conservative in this race.

MARTIN: What would be your message to Clinton supporters who say that she's the most qualified candidate ever to seek this office? It's an historic chance to see a woman in the White House. What would you say to people who support her? Why should they consider your candidacy?

MCMULLIN: Well, I'm certainly in favor of the empowerment of women in our system and in our government, which is partially why I chose Mindy Finn as my running mate, who's a very wise and powerful - or strong leader that I think is part of a new generation of leadership that this country needs. Look, Hillary Clinton has had some valuable experiences. There's no doubt about that. She was a U.S. senator. She was our secretary of state. But beyond that, one needs to demonstrate good judgment and decision making in these roles. She was secretary of state presiding over our foreign policy at a time when al-Qaida in Iraq reconstituted itself and then became ISIS. She also presided over the reset with Russia which set the stage for Putin's empowerment and what has led to a lot of human suffering in the world due to his activities.

MARTIN: To that end, though, let me just ask you about this because we have sort of limited time here. The fact of the three-month campaign - how would you say - I mean, the fact is a lot of people think the American campaign season is just way too long, but a lot of people feel that, you know, there is some benefit to that in the sense that people get a chance to get to know a candidate. How would people know that you are who you say you are?

MCMULLIN: And what exactly do you mean by that?

MARTIN: What I mean is that how would they know that you really are the person that they want after they've had a chance to evaluate these other candidates over such a long period of time? I don't mean anything mean by it I mean simply that...

MCMULLIN: No, that's fine. I understand your question, but candidly, look, I served in the Central Intelligence Agency for 11 years. That's a position that requires a ton of vetting on an ongoing basis before you're hired and throughout your employment. So that's what I did, and I stand by my service and I'm proud of it. As far as getting to know me, clearly, you know, more time would be ideal in this campaign. I've never said otherwise. I've never made the case that a three-month presidential campaign is ideal. It certainly is not. I got into the race at a time when I thought it was the last opportunity for somebody to pose even a long shot, but still credible challenge to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

MARTIN: When you talked to my colleague Scott Simon back in August, you said you were only on the ballots in Utah and Colorado. What about now?

MCMULLIN: We're on the ballot in 11 states, and we have ballot access in another number of states. So we have a total ballot access either as a write-in or appearing on the ballot in 34 to 35 states. By the time we get to Election Day, it will be 43 to 45.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, as we mentioned, in a longer campaign, we get to know a little bit more about the candidates things like who they are as people, you know, what their families are all about. Can you just tell us a little bit about yourself on a personal level? Are you married? Are you partnered? Do you have kids? What do you like to listen to? What do you do when you're not working?

MCMULLIN: Well, I'm single, and I love to hike and explore. I love to try new restaurants and travel with friends. And I've traveled quite a bit both professionally and personally. I love to read when I, you know - nonprofessionally when I get the chance, although I tend to read mostly professionally. If I can spend time outside then I'm a happy man, and that's what I try to do. Not much time for that these days, but that's what makes me happy.

MARTIN: That was Evan McMullin. He's an independent candidate for president. We reached him after a campaign event in St. George, Utah. Evan McMullin, thank you so much for speaking with us.

MCMULLIN: Thank you. My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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