Elections

Meet Evan McMullin, The Conservative Independent Running For President

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin wants “Special Forces on the ground, CIA operators on the ground, and then doing more to support our friendly forces on the ground” to fight the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Daily Caller News Foundation sat down with the Independent presidential candidate, former CIA operative and U.S. House GOP staffer to talk about his policy goals and why he is running for the highest office in the land.

TheDCNF: Where is the campaign right now in terms of a ground game?

McMullin: Well, first I guess I’ll start off by saying that we’re on the ballot or registered as a write-in in 27 different states, by Nov. 8 on 40-45 either as a write-in or registered to be on the ballot. So that’s where that is. You know our goals are non-traditional — we’re not trying to win 270 votes in the electoral college. That’d be great, but it’s just not possible in a three-month presidential campaign. So what we’re trying to do is block Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both from winning. We see the biggest opportunity for that to be in the mountain West.

TheDCNF: What I’ve been hearing on Capitol Hill is that many senior staffers are privately very pleased with your run, but that many members of Congress are displeased. What are you hearing from the Hill about your candidacy?

McMullin: Basically that, so, you’ve got good sources. That’s what I’ve heard, I get a lot of encouragement from staffers on the Hill that, it’s sort of like, the private text and the email and that sort of thing. I believe that the Republican Party has nominated someone who I believe is dividing this country along racial lines, which means that he’s a person who I don’t think fully embraces the equality of all human beings. The Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and we were proud of that. I know for a fact that House leadership is proud of that very [Lincoln] vein. But where is the party of Lincoln? I don’t see it.

Trump is a person who is welcoming to our shores the efforts of Vladimir Putin to destabilize democracy in the world. He [Trump] is doing the same thing in our country that that he’s [Putin] done in Europe, and the Republican Party has embraced it. Most Republican voters did not want Donald Trump, their votes were fragmented across you know many other candidates. We have a very clear picture that Donald Trump refuses to repudiate racism, he receives the support of a white supremacist movement in the United States.

TheDCNF: With that in mind, what if your immigration policy in contrast to Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s?

McMullin: What my immigration policy is, we’ve got to secure the border, we need to enforce our laws, and I do not support the deportation of 11 million people. I supported efforts for comprehensive immigration reform, absolutely. But, what I think needs to happen for people who are here, who aren’t violating laws or aren’t, you know, living criminal lifestyles — those who are need to be deported. For those who aren’t, I think they need to be given a path towards legal presence. You know, what does that mean? So, some of that can be seasonal. For other people, it needs to be more long term because they have families here.

We should never allow ourselves to be in this situation again, first of all. And we’ve allowed ourselves to be in this situation because we haven’t enforced our laws or protected our border. Now that we’re here, we are where we are, let’s have a common sense solution. On citizenship, I think that people should have a path to citizenship but the path to citizenship is through the regular path that everybody else is in. Back of the line [for those who came illegally and now want citizenship]. Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t, we ought to make our entire immigration system more efficient and effective and we can talk about what that means. But whatever the process if for everyone for citizenship, that has to be the process.

TheDCNF: When it comes to defeating the Islamic State, would you consider having boots on the ground beyond the current special forces operators and advisers?

McMullin: I don’t think we need that. I think we can defeat ISIS without that. But I do not think it should be taken off the table. This is a serious enough threat that we need to keep all potentially useful options on the table. What I am a supporter of is special forces on the ground, CIA operators on the ground, and then doing more to support our friendly forces on the ground.

TheDCNF: And keeping with intelligence policy, there were comments made recently by both James Clapper as well as Susan Rice, in their own, different ways, speaking about the need for more diversity in the intelligence community. What do you make of those remarks?

McMullin: Yeah, well look, I do think there’s a lot of value in diversity writ large. It goes without saying that people of certain backgrounds can do things others cannot, precisely because of their unique experiences. For example … if somebody was raised in a particular village in Afghanistan and they speak a particular dialect … they understand that village better. If someone has a passport from a certain country besides their U.S. citizenship, there is clear value there. It’s also about skill sets though and  what I just described has an impact on skills required of intelligence officers, which are really hard to find.

TheDCNF: So what do you make of Director Brennan’s comments that the CIA doesn’t steal secrets?

McMullin: It just makes you — that’s a head-scratcher. Because that one of the fundamental roles of the CIA, and I don’t think we need to mince words about that. We need to steal secrets to protect our security here in the United States.

TheDCNF: How would you ensure avoiding the politicization of intelligence as was the case in CENTCOM recently with Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysts reportedly being pressured to cook the books and make the fight against ISIS seem like it is going better than it actually is?

McMullin: As far as the politicization of intel, obviously this is one of the things the intel community should guard against at every turn, because integrity is so important in the work of intelligence. And so, you asked what I would do as president. Well first of all, I would never — and I know that this is a temptation for presidents because I’ve seen it, myself, first hand — I would avoid the temptation of trying to manipulate intelligence in order to justify actions that I wanted to take that weren’t supported by facts, or by facts as we understand them.

TheDCNF: How do you plan on increasing visibility for your campaign?

McMulllin: We’re working on an under-card debate, which I think is really important in this election cycle, for people to hear from other candidates, so we’re working on that. I think that’ll be very important, that’ll provide an opportunity for me and for the other two candidates who are polling at measurable numbers to offer their vision for America to the American people, and let them become more aware of what we’re offering.

TheDCNF: What do you make about Gary Johnson’s now infamous remark just last week I think, “What is Aleppo?” As someone who’s spent a lifetime in foreign policy, what do you make of that? Does it disqualify him from president of the United States?

McMullin: I think Gary Johnson is a nice man, [but] I do not think he is prepared to be the leader of this country or to be the leader of the free world.

TheDCNF: Why should voters give you a chance in that your candidacy is outside of the two parties, what is your elevator pitch to voters?

McMullin: Yeah, my elevator pitch. Well, first of all, I firmly believe that its time in this country for a new generation of leadership. I think we are getting terrible leaders, in both of the two major parties, and I come from within the Republican establishment, I’ve never voter for anyone other than a Republican. And that says a lot about how I find myself here. But I think we need leaders who will put the interests of this country first. I think we need leaders who will unify the country, and how do I think that they can unify the country? Through a re-commitment to individual liberty, inclusiveness and tolerance for people of other races, and ethnicities, and religions. If you’re going to say that we all should have individual liberty, then we’re all going to exercise that liberty, and we’re going to be different and that what we need.

Though big government and now through Donald Trump and his bigotry, and then the Democrats, continue to promote big, centralized government that’s unaccountable to the American people, and that’s just a recipe for fiscal and security disaster in my mind. It deprives people of individual liberty, and it divides us, not unites us. So I just think the two parties are stuck in the past. These two candidates offer old ideas, we need leadership who will recommit this country, and who themselves will recommit to the cause of individual liberty and to tolerance.

TheDCNF: Would you consider running for another office if you don’t win?

McMullin: I don’t really know, I haven’t had a chance to think about that. But what I do think about more is what we’re building. We have built something quickly that is very real and we just keep building. So what comes next, I don’t know, but I want what we’re building here to be an influence for the cause of individual liberty and openness to people of other races and religions to be part of the conservative movement. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. And so that is what I’m focused on and what form that takes I don’t know.

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