SALT LAKE CITY — As presidential candidate Evan McMullin (I) and his team watched the election results come in Tuesday night, they were furiously rewriting his speech. They, like most of the nation, were shocked that Donald Trump was poised as of early Wednesday morning to potentially win the presidency of the United States.
But McMullin’s core campaign message, that the Republican party had forsaken its principles and allowed itself to be hijacked by a parasite named Trump, was validated by the incoming results, he told the crowd of supporters here in Utah. As of late Tuesday night, Trump led McMullin by at least a 2 to 1 margin in his home state.
“The Republican Party can no longer be considered the home for conservatives,” McMullin said. “Conservatism is about protecting the fundamental rights: That we are all equal, regardless of the color of our skin, the faith that we practice or our gender. But tonight there are millions of Americans, I’m sad to say, who are now in fear that perhaps their liberties will be challenged and threatened under a Trump administration that has made a campaign of targeting people based on their race, religion and gender.”
McMullin’s campaign, which had long promised to build a new conservative movement, will now transition to a more permanent structure entitled, “The New Conservative Movement.” There will be a formal launch Wednesday. But Tuesday night, he focused his speech on calling for conservatives to leave the GOP and find another way to advocate for conservative principles.
“We must hold our leaders accountable now,” he said. “We can no longer trust them to do it. They had their opportunity.”
Evan McMullin’s campaign was always a long shot. He had no name recognition, spent most of his adult life undercover in the CIA, had no political experience to speak of, and was running with no money or support from senior Republican figures. Yet he managed in only three months to garner over 20 percent of the Utah vote and even amassed votes in other states, including more than 50,000 votes in Virginia.
In Utah, he may have a chance to contend for a senate seat in 2018. In short, his campaign surpassed expectations and his run was a rare positive note in an otherwise ugly and negative campaign season.
As for his new conservative movement, its success remains to be seen. But his concession speech message, that conservatives are outsiders in a Trump administration, will likely resonate. All Republican conservatives will now be forced to choose between Trump and their principles. McMullin was just ahead of the curve.