Hundreds of people attended rallies for Independent candidate Evan McMullin in Idaho Falls and Rexburg Oct. 14 and 15.
John Claybrook, a staffer for the McMullin campaign, said the rallies were originally supposed to be events for local volunteers of the McMullin presidential campaign.
Claybrook said as the news of McMullin’s planned visit got around, the venues for both the Idaho Falls and Rexburg events had to be changed to accommodate the number of people who RSVP’d.
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At each event, McMullin spoke about what needs to happen for him to win the presidency, why he decided to run for president so close to the election, and his goal to stop both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from winning the White House.
McMullin said the non-profit organization Better for America first approached him with the idea of running for president. Both he and Better for America had been unable to find anyone with name recognition willing to run against Donald Trump on the Republican ticket.
“I knew that if someone didn’t step up right away, all would be lost,” McMullin said of his decision to run for president. “That no one could mount even a moonshot effort to stop them both (Trump and Clinton) and to stand for what was right and to build something better for the future.”
He said he knows a three-month campaign is not ideal. Regardless, he said social media traffic is increasing at incredible rates and the main stream media is starting to take notice of what he is doing.
“What this is, I believe, is fueled by two things,” McMullin said. “Number one, the fact that we’re standing up for what is right and number two, that millions of Americans are recognizing that and standing up with us.”
He said he hopes to block Clinton and Trump, but in order to do so, the race needs to be close. McMullin said if he wins two or more states, the election will go to the House of Representatives to decide.
“People say to me, ‘Evan, if I vote for you, isn’t it just a vote for Hillary Clinton or for Donald Trump?’ Or, ‘Isn’t it just a wasted vote?’” McMullin said.
He said people need to get away from that kind of thinking in regards to voting.
“Men and women have literally fought and died for our right to vote,” he said. “Our votes are our voice in our democracy. And if we don’t use them to stand for what is right and against what is wrong, then we will never have the kind of leaders we need.”
McMullin said the Republican and Democratic parties cannot be trusted to provide honest and wise leaders.
“They have failed,” he said.
Before taking questions from the audience, McMullin talked about some of his policies.
On foreign policy, he said while he believes the U.S. needs to play a leadership role in the world, it needs to find a balance between exerting too much force and allowing power vacuums to be filled by terrorist organizations.
“I served in Iraq, and many did —probably some people in this room — I’m proud of all of our service,” McMullin said. “But it cost trillions of dollars and was done the wrong way and we lost thousands of American lives.”
He said he wants to see criminal justice reform.
“The truth is, we’re locking up people in this country at a very high rate for non-violent crimes,” McMullin said. “We have to be focused more on rehabilitation, giving these people a way forward. Because we send them to prison, and that’s like a training camp for criminal activity.”
He said Americans need to protect their Second Amendment rights and the right to life.
“I believe that our position on life, and what we do to protect the lives of the unborn and those until the end of their lives into the elderly years is a true test of our humanity,” McMullin said.
He said Americans need to work together to protect the right to worship and live their faiths as they see fit.
“We should work hard to protect the ability and the freedom of people of other faiths have to worship how they want,” he said.