CIA veteran and chief policy director of the House Republican conference Evan McMullin announced Monday he is launching a US Presidential bid as an independent and running as a conservative alternative to Republican candidate Donald Trump.

“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,” McMullin wrote in a statement on his new campaign website yesterday.

“Instead, we have been left with two candidates who are fundamentally unfit for the profound responsibilities they seek.”

Hoping to appeal to disaffected voters in both parties, McMullin is running on a conservative platform with his first statement as a candidate outlining his concerns for the “strength of the military” and his dreams for a “limited, Constitutional government.”

He is also firmly in the pro-Life camp, a policy that may attract socially-conservative Republican voters unhappy with the varying opinions Trump has expressed on abortion.

“Those who embrace the dignity and value of every human life from conception until death … are all looking for something better than the two major party candidates are offering,” McMullin wrote.

Although he never served in elected office before, McMullin has received support from key players in the GOP “Never Trump” movement, including veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson. Buzzfeed News also reports that the independent is being aided by people who have recently resigned from the the 501 (c)(4) group Better for America, which is working to get McMullin on the ballot.

The 40-year old, unmarried CIA veteran faces significant challenges just to get on the ballot. The deadline for 26 states (& 294 electoral votes) has already passed. In order to be elected President candidates must secure  270 electoral votes. Minus those 26 states McMullin's maximimum would be 244 electoral votes.

McMullin has an extremely low profile nationally compared with Clinton, Trump or even National Review writer David French, who flirted with the idea of a third-party candidacy before deciding in June that he was not the right person for such an undertaking.

An unknown, McMullin seldom makes TV appearances and had just 135 followers on Twitter when his candidacy was announced yesterday. This has quickly jumped to over 23,000 at the time of writing and is steadily growing.

The policy director has been a consistent critic of Trump, however, and hopes do well in states, such as Utah, with a high concentration of Mormons. McMullin is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an alumnus of Brigham Young University. McMullin hopes to recruit these voters, who polls show to be deeply averse to the Trump candidacy.

On the night of Trump’s acceptance of the GOP nomination at the Republican National Convention last month, McMullin stated that Donald Trump’s America “would be a police state,” branding him as an “authoritarian.”

He has also criticized the GOP candidate's attacks on Muslims, stating: “As Donald Trump continues attacking Muslims and as a former CIA officer, I’d like all Americans to know the truth: American and other Muslims have played a central role in virtually every counter-terrorism win we’ve had since 9/11. They are an indispensable asset in this fight. Attacking them as a group makes America weaker, not stronger.” He continued, saying Trump "appeals to the worst fears of Americans at a time we need unity."

He also said Hillary Clinton was a “crooked career politician.”

McMullin was born in Utah in 1976. He served as a Mormon missionary in Brazil and as a volunteer Refugee Resettlement Officer in Amman, Jordan on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

He was an operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1999 to 2010, before working in Goldman Sachs as an investment banking associate for three years. He moved to Capitol Hill in 2013, becoming a senior adviser on national security for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He left his latest position as Chief Policy Director of the House Republican Conference in order to make this bid for the White House.

H/T: Buzzfeed News

Facing an uphill battle with 26 states already past the deadline to gain entry to the ballot, Evan McMullin enters the Presidential race. www.evanmcmullin.com