This post has been updated.
Joe Scarborough ventured into Bill Kristol territory Monday morning, saying on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that unnamed sources tell him an unnamed independent presidential candidate will enter the race at this late stage to try to stop Donald Trump.
"It does appear that there is going to be a well-funded independent candidate ... that is going to at least try to get on 20 t0 30 state ballots," Scarborough said. "They still believe they can go past the 270 threshold, so this person will be able to be in debates. But certainly it is aimed, I believe — and this is just my conjecture, based upon the people I've been speaking with — that this has more to do with stopping Donald Trump than actually electing the president."
"I suspect it will be closer to David French than, say, John Kasich," Scarborough added, referring to the National Review columnist who decided not to run after Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor and #NeverTrump crusader, floated his name. "That said, this will be a person that will allow Republicans to say, "I'm going to vote for this third-party candidate, rather than Gary Johnson."
Shortly after Scarborough's tease, BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins reported that he had solved the mystery: Evan McMullin, Brigham Young University graduate, chief policy director of the House Republican conference and veteran of the CIA.
"McMullin has virtually no public profile," Coppins wrote. "He doesn't appear regularly on television and has just 135 followers on Twitter."
That number is climbing rapidly now, of course. But McMullin has a long way to go before catching Trump, who has 10.7 million followers.
Scarborough quickly seconded the report that McMullin is the mystery candidate.
McMullin then confirmed the bid by launching a website and updating his Twitter bio, writing that he is "standing up to run for president because it’s never too late to do the right thing." Later, he posted a letter to voters explaining why he is running.
Like millions of Americans, I had hoped this year would bring us better nominees who, despite party differences, could offer compelling visions of a better future. Instead, we have been left with two candidates who are fundamentally unfit for the profound responsibilities they seek. ...
With the stakes so high for our nation and at this late stage in the process, I can no longer stand on the sidelines.
So far, journalists and conservative pundits are not impressed.
If McMullin really does get in the race, he will at least have help raising his profile from conservatives in the media who oppose Trump.
Scarborough is already talking him up: "This guy has a really impressive resume. ... He sure has more credentials to run a government than Donald Trump right now."