Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin got a signal boost over the weekend after Donald Trump accused him of taking away votes that he badly needs to win Utah.
McMullin had been rising in the polls in Utah even before the latest comments by Trump, accusing him of being a puppet and a “nobody.”
Speaking Monday on KUER’s RadioWest, McMullin said his campaign is growing, even beyond the Intermountain West.
“We’re building something that is very real,” he said. “It’s too easy for people to say, ‘Oh, this is just a Mormon thing because Evan’s Mormon, and there are so many Mormons in Utah.' But I would encourage people to disabuse themselves of that misperception.”
McMullin, a Mormon Republican turned Independent, stands a serious chance of winning Utah’s six electoral votes next week. Recent polls have put him ahead or within the margin of error of beating Trump.
The third party candidate and his running mate, Mindy Finn, are on the ballot in 11 states and qualify as official write-in candidates in several dozen more.
His surge even caused the Trump campaign to send Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence to Salt Lake City last week — in a bid for disaffected Republicans to save their votes for the GOP. McMullin said he’s comfortable in his current role.
“I think Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who make these arguments, don’t understand what leadership is about and what America is about," he said. "They’re right, it isn’t about me. And yes, I am a nobody, but I’m comfortable being a nobody.”
Although McMullin has his best chance in Utah, he could have even more of an effect in neighboring swing states, like Nevada or Arizona that have large numbers of Mormon voters. Provo’s Daily Herald gave McMullin his first newspaper endorsement on Sunday.