“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. 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,” said a statement from McMullin, disseminated through ABC News.
McMullin has been picked by Better for America (BFA), an organization established two months ago, and headed by John Kingston, a multi-millionaire Republican donor, who previously endorsed Mitt Romney. Better for America has been working to register a candidate with the help of a legal team, so far approaching states with the least stringent conditions, which do not even require a specific nominee.
Its efforts thus far have been rejected in New Mexico, due to a lack of sufficient signatures to recognize it as a party. A petition in Arkansas is still pending.
BFA hopes that McMullin will give its alternative candidate campaign impetus.
McMullin’s most recent high profile post has been as chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, an organization that unites the GOP’s House of Representatives membership, and designs strategies for communicating with the wider party base.
But the Conference said that it no longer employed McMullin and had “zero knowledge” of his White House bid.
Beyond that, there is little public information about the prospective candidate, aside from an impressive list of credentials and a series of messages sent out to his Twitter followers, who numbered less than 140 before the announcement, though the number has since risen to over 15,000.
Born in Utah, McMullin has a bachelor’s in international law and diplomacy from Brigham Young University, and an MBA from Wharton.
He has been a Mormon missionary and a UN volunteer refugee resettlement officer. He had also worked as a CIA counter-terrorism operative in several hotspots, before quitting the agency and becoming a Goldman Sachs investment banker. In the past three years, he has performed several behind-the-scenes roles for the Republican Party.
McMullin is unmarried, and has no children.
In his social media output, he has emphasized his CIA experience, and repeatedly criticized Donald Trump.
Although he is a virtual unknown, BFA says it is employing experienced GOP operatives such as consultant Rick Wilson and pollster Joel Searby to make sure McMullin is a credible candidate. It also says it is banking on the support of prominent elected Republicans, likely those who have refused to endorse Donald Trump for the election, though their names have not yet been revealed.
So far, neither Trump nor Clinton have responded to the arrival of a new challenger.