Presidential candidate Evan McMullin visits Logan

Evan McMullin speaks at Mount Logan Middle School during a town hall meeting October 12, 2016.

LOGAN – On the same day media reported a surge in Utah’s presidential polls for Evan McMullin, the independent candidate held a town hall meeting at Mount Logan Middle School. McMullin spoke for more than 25 minutes Wednesday night before answering questions dealing with issues like education, systematic racism, foreign threats and state rights.

McMullin started his speech by telling his story. He spoke of his ancestor’s immigrations to the United States, what the country means to him and why he decided to run as what he called “the only true conservative candidate.”

During the primary stages of the election he was concerned when he saw Donald Trump continue to gain momentum. McMullin had already spent 11 years in the CIA studying documents concerning foreign dictators. He said they displayed similar qualities that he sees in Trump. He believed Trump was a man that would not respect the division of powers and would seek to divide using race and religion.

“I saw someone who did not respect the courts,” he said. “I saw someone who admired dictators overseas and who I didn’t think would protect or respect our civil rights.”

Unlike what he saw with Trump, he said he expected Hillary Clinton’s advancement through the primaries. He was also concerned with the Democratic nominee, someone who he considers a “deeply corrupt politician.”

“(She is) somebody who was willing to set up a private email server and compromise national security secrets, put the lives of my former colleagues at risk, all to avoid accountability to the American people,” he said. “Here we live in a country where 70 to 80 percent of the people feel we are on the wrong track. How can we have a president that feels that she or he is unaccountable to the American people?”

According to McMullin, the decision to run for president came after days of prayer and study. He finally felt a conviction that it was the right thing to do.

He also made it clear that he understands a win is unlikely, but he wants to keep up the good fight and believes there is a chance. His strategy has been to win at least one state and hope both Trump and Clinton end up lacking the 270 required electoral votes. In such a situation, the House of Representatives would choose one of the top three candidates.

Right now, a recent poll shows McMullin at 22 percent in Utah, barely trailing Clinton and Trump, who have 26 percent each.

If there was a split in the electoral college, McMullin is confident things could go well for him from that point on. He said he already has a good relationship with the House Republicans.

“I just came from there,” he said. “Like I said, I was the chief policy director there.”

With Trump’s popularity declining during the past week, McMullin said odds are getting worse there would be a split, but he also believes his campaign is a movement that is “standing up for what is right and good.”

“We’re standing up for those things, and we are building a new conservative movement in this country that will extend beyond November 8,” he said. “And I invite all of you to be a part of that.”

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