Evan McMullin, a conservative independent presidential candidate, is slightly behind the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, in Utah, according to recent polling. (Eli Lucero/Logan, Utah, Herald Journal via AP)

A white-nationalist supporter of Donald Trump has launched a robo-call smear campaign in Utah that is designed to prevent independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin from winning the state’s six electoral votes.

The calls, which are targeting about 200,000 residents of the conservative state, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, say, among other things, that “Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn’t even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual.”

They go on to ridicule that McMullin’s mother divorced his father and is now married to a woman.

The sponsor of the campaign is William Johnson, who describes himself on the call as a “farmer and white nationalist.”

According to the Tribune, Johnson leads something called the American Freedom Party. He sponsored a similar robo-call in March against Mitt Romney, who was the Republican presidential nominee in the 2012 election, after he disavowed Trump, called him a fraud and criticized him for tolerating racist leaders.

Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, told CNN, “We strongly condemn this rhetoric and these activities of which we have no knowledge.”

McMullin, a retired CIA officer, called Johnson’s effort “another desperate attack from GOP nominee” Trump “and his racist supporters as he continues to lose ground in Utah.”

McMullin has taken Utah, and the Trump campaign, by surprise.

In the latest Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll, conducted Oct. 20 to 27, Trump had a slight lead, at 32 percent, with McMullin close behind, at 30 percent (within the margin of error of 3.42 percentage points) and with Hillary Clinton a distant third, at 24 percent.

Conservative independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin is gaining in the polls in Utah, his home state. (Reuters)

If he beats Trump and wins Utah, as The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake has written, it would be the first time in 92 years that someone has won a single state essentially as a protest vote.

McMullin is clearly getting under the Trump campaign’s skin, as The Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote, with Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, ridiculing him.

“Nobody’s ever heard of him,” Pence said.

McMullin responded to Trump on Twitter: “Yes you’ve never heard of me because while you were harassing women at beauty pageants, I was fighting terrorists abroad.” He has attacked Trump as an “authoritarian, life-long liberal who disrespects life, liberty & equality.”

Trump supporters have attempted to question McMullin’s record as an undercover CIA officer. But in a Washington Post opinion article published Oct. 30, Josh Rogin described interviewing six former CIA officers who worked with McMullin.

“What emerged,” Rogin wrote, “was a picture of a young case officer who volunteered for duty in the world’s most dangerous places and had a unique talent for recruiting members of extremist organizations as assets.”

McMullin has spoken openly of his mother’s marriage, while stressing that he personally believes in the “sanctity of traditional marriage” as an important part of his Mormon faith.

“My mother has a different view,” he told the Tribune. “That is OK. I love her very much, and she is one of my best friends. She is a wonderful mother.”

He also told the Tribune he is aware that people in Utah wonder why he is not married, given the importance the Mormon church places on marriage at a relatively young age.

“I spent much of my 20s and early 30s working in a way that made it difficult for me to date,” he told the Tribune, “and I wanted to get married. … My greatest aspiration is to be a husband and a father.”

Here’s the full text of the robo-call. You can hear the recording here. 

Hello. My name is William Johnson. I’m a farmer and a white nationalist. I make this call against Evan McMullin and in support of Donald Trump. Evan McMullin is an open-borders-amnesty supporter.

He has two mommies. His mother is a lesbian married to another woman. Evan is okay with that. Indeed, Evan supports the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn’t even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual. Don’t vote for Evan McMullin. Vote for Donald Trump. He will respect all women and be a president we can all be proud of.

I paid for this ad for the American National super PAC.

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