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Washington • Former independent presidential candidate and Utah native Evan McMullin on Wednesday launched what he hopes will be a grass-roots movement to oppose President Donald Trump and challenge his administration.
Stand Up Republic, a joint effort by McMullin and his former running mate, Mindy Finn, seems to fulfill their campaign promise to start a "new conservative movement" and possible political party. The two seek to organize and "lead Americans in the defense of the fundamental principles upon which this nation was founded," according to a news release from the organization.
"That will necessarily include standing up to the Trump administration when warranted," McMullin said in a prepared statement. "We've come to a time when our democracy, Constitution and basic rights are in jeopardy."
Attempts by The Salt Lake Tribune to reach McMullin for further comment were not successful Wednesday.
The Mormon independent candidate appealed to many conservative voters who didn't support Trump. But he faced an unlikely bid for the presidency, gaining his highest percentage of support in a state he ultimately lost: Utah.
Early polls had McMullin in the lead at 31 percent, eliciting a response from Trump, who said it would be "devastating" to lose the state and could cost him the election. Trump won Utah, though, with 45 percent of the vote. He outpaced McMullin by 24 points, with the independent finishing third, after Hillary Clinton.
McMullin, a former CIA operative, appeared on the ballot in just 11 states (though he was registered as a write-in candidate in many others).
His movement, though, revives the platform that he ran on, particularly holding tight to the conservative stance of limiting federal overreach and upholding the constitutional provisions for congressional power.
His plans to do that? "These challenges can only be overcome by a new era of civic engagement in which Americans are more vigilant, informed and engaged in the defense of our democracy," according to his statement.
Finn continues in the release to say the movement is about holding "the Trump administration accountable."
"Embracing an authoritarian cannot be the solution to our problems," she said. "We should face our fears boldly and refuse to cave to our worst impulses."
Stand Up Republic, according to its website which has a similar design to McMullin's online campaign page aims to give citizens a voice in federal politics. The group has launched two videos. One is a montage for the movement with voiceovers of a John F. Kennedy speech and another from Ronald Reagan.
The second video attacks Trump's connections to Russia and the country's President Vladimir Putin, asking: "How can you trust him if he won't come clean?"
The ad will air on national broadcasts this week. It's unclear how McMullin's group got funding for the videos, but the movement does ask for contributions on its website.
During the election, Trump recognized McMullin's third party candidacy but danced around saying his name. The president instead called the independent hopeful a "puppet of a loser" and "some guy" from Utah. After his victory, Trump mocked him as "Evan McMuffin ... or something like that" at a victory rally in Florida.