A 40-year-old former CIA operative and ex-chief policy director for the House Republican Conference on Monday is expected to officially launch an anti-Trump independent presidential bid.
Though Evan McMullin would be a longshot and immediately faces a challenge simply getting on the ballot, his candidacy highlights frustrations lingering within the Republican Party over nominee Donald Trump. McMullin’s strategy likely will be to target Republicans in red states still on the fence about a Trump presidency.
“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. "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.”
Realistically, getting McMullin’s name on the ballots in all 50 states will be a steep if not impossible climb. Adding to that, McMullin has little name recognition. He hasn’t been shopped around to the television networks and is rarely quoted in publications.
However, reports of his entry into the race have quickly raised his profile.
Over the course of a few hours, McMullin significantly upped his Twitter game. Over the weekend he had 147 followers. By 10:30 a.m. ET Monday, he had over 8,300 followers.
He wasted no time taking Trump to task, tweeting Monday: “Authoritarians like @realDonaldTrump uses promises of law & order to justify infringing on civil rights as they consolidate control by force.”
Authoritarians like @realDonaldTrump use promises of law & order to justify infringing on civil rights as they consolidate control by force.— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) July 22, 2016
McMullin also is expected to have veteran GOP strategist Rick Wilson, a Florida-based media consultant and Trump critic, in his corner, BuzzFeed reported Monday.
Wilson reportedly was in Washington over the weekend and met with possible members of McMullin’s team, which includes members of Better for America – a group that’s advocated for an independent presidential bid.
Nate Hodson, a spokesman for the House Republican Conference, told Fox News the conference “has zero knowledge of his intentions.”
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.