On Thursday, I wrote a piece titled, “Evan McMullin Admits His Campaign Strategy Is to Elect Hillary Clinton.” Dozens of McMullin supporters commented on the story and tweeted at me to tell me the headline was misleading.
Okay. So let’s rehash this. Here is what McMullin said, in full:
QUESTION: How many states are you going to be on the ballot would you say?
EVAN MCMULLIN: Right now we’re either on the ballot or registered as a write-in in 34 states. By the time we get to November 8th it will be 40 to 45. And that’s plenty for our strategy which is not a conventional strategy. We’re not trying to win 270 votes. Of course that would be great but it’s just not going to happen, this is a three-month presidential campaign.
So, what we’re trying to do is earn enough electoral votes to block Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump if the race between both of them is so close that we are able to do that by winning 1 or 2 states. So, that’s the idea. But if not that then we will be happy to have prevented someone who I believe is a true authoritarian from taking power in the United States and that’s Donald Trump. [Emphasis added]
In his own words, Evan McMullin admits to having a two-pronged strategy. The supposed primary objective is to block both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from winning 270 electoral votes by winning “one or two” states.
The secondary objective, should McMullin fail to force an electoral college stalemate, is to defeat Donald Trump and elect Hillary Clinton. I’m not sure how someone can read that quote and come away with a different take. He says this pretty explicitly.
So let’s talk about that supposed primary objective. Evan McMullin wants to win Utah, and he has a puncher’s chance of doing so. At this point, eight days out from the election, he isn’t really viable anywhere else — his best non-Utah polling numbers have come out of Idaho, where he’s polling at around 10 percent. Winning Utah, of course, can’t hurt Hillary Clinton. It can only prevent Donald Trump from reaching 270 electoral votes.
And we know McMullin is going after Trump. If you don’t believe me, check out his Twitter stream from a day after the news broke that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Clinton’s emails:
But if McMullin’s primary objective is also blocking Hillary Clinton, one would think he would be aggressively going after her right now, given her front runner status. After all, Clinton, not Trump, is the one leading all the polls and projections, right? So what is McMullin doing to prevent Clinton from getting to 270? Where is McMullin’s anti-Clinton effort in states she needs to win? Why isn’t he trying to peel away disaffected Clinton voters in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, or Ohio?
McMullin put himself on the ballot in nearly 40 states, so it’s not like he couldn’t make this happen logistically, yet he has made no attempt to do so. Strategically, he is focusing his ground game exclusively on states Trump needs to win while tailoring his national messaging exclusively to disaffected Trump voters.
McMullin isn’t going to stop Clinton because he doesn’t want to stop Clinton. His boots-on-the-ground strategy makes that quite clear. As he admitted in the above quote, his actual authentic objective is to stop Donald Trump.
McMullin is a spoiler candidate, pure and simple. A friend of mine pointed out that McMullin reminded him a lot of Robert Sarvis, the “Libertarian” candidate in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race who enabled victory for Democrat Terry McAulliffe. By strategically attacking Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, Sarvis managed to grab nearly 150,000 votes (6.5 percent) in a race that was won by less than 50,000. McMullin is attempting to do the same thing.
Ask yourself this, McMullin voters, if you’re still not convinced. Do you think Hillary Clinton minds Evan McMullin’s presence in the race? Not at all. She is without a doubt giddy about him. He might even be her new favorite “Republican.”
So, to answer this headline’s question: no, in my view, The Pulse 2016 did not publish an inaccurate headline on Thursday. Evan McMullin did admit that his campaign’s strategy is to elect Hillary Clinton. I stand by everything I wrote.
Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director at American Principles Project.