Hundreds gather for Evan McMullin speech in Provo

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin speaks to a crowd at the Provo City Library. (Luca Cuestas)

Hundreds of people gathered to hear independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin speak at the Provo City Library on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

When McMullin stepped onstage in the room, which was already packed to capacity, he said there were roughly 100 more people trying to get in.

McMullin said the decision to run for president was difficult, but he agreed to do it because he believes neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is a qualified candidate.

“There were too many variables. There was too much opposition and the odds were too long,” McMullin said. “But what I kept coming back to was the simple idea that someone had to do this and that it was the right thing to do.”

McMullin said there’s a lot of goodwill for the U.S. across the world because of its core values as a country.

“When we violate these ideals, that goodwill suffers, and when that goodwill suffers, our alliances suffer, our business dealings suffer, our economy suffers, our ability to meet challenges and threats overseas suffers,” McMullin said. “And that’s why when we see leaders or would-be leaders in this country attacking our ideals, we must reject them.”

McMullin said the U.S. is facing the problems of increased racial division, inadequate defense spending, a 100-year-old education system and deficient leadership.

“I think we need to make some changes,” McMullin said. “I believe that our nation has tremendous, unlimited potential, and I believe we can overcome these challenges.”

One way to overcome those challenges is to give more power to individual states and less to the federal government, McMullin said.

“That fact that so much power in concentrated in Washington, D.C., I believe, is dividing us, because the more power that is there, the more we have to fight for resources at that one particular place,” McMullin said.

McMullin said the way to manage the national debt is by reforming entitlement programs.

“Right now our poverty programs are designed to help people survive poverty. We need poverty programs that will help people out of poverty,” McMullin said.

Evan McMullin supporters try to squeeze into the room where he is speaking. Hundreds of people showed up to hear McMullin speak, lined up around the perimeter of the room and sat on the floor to fit. (Gianluca Cuestas)

McMullin also said there’s a need for reform in education.

“I believe that we need to empower parents so that they have more of a say in curriculum and where their children study,” McMullin said. “We need to reform the way educational institutions are accredited so that new kinds of institutions can also enter the marketplace, enter the education industry and offer new opportunities to learn to students across the country and beyond.”

Universities need to “have a little skin in the game” when it comes to student loans, according to McMullin.

“That’s important because if they do, they’ll have an incentive to keep the level of education, the quality of education, high and the cost low,” McMullin said.

McMullin said American citizens need to recommit themselves to their most core ideals and to honoring the Constitution.

“It is not enough that we have the inspired Constitution that we do,” McMullin said. “If we think it’s enough, then we’re mistaken and we end up suffering, this country ends up suffering, because our Constitution is really only as good as the respect our leaders have for it.”

McMullin urged his supporters to be engaged in the political process.

“I see you all today — here, in this hot room — and I know that I’m preaching to the choir, but it is you that will create what I’m talking about,” McMullin said. “It is you that must create it because you are here, you are engaging, but so many others are not.”

McMullin introduced his document, “Principles for New American Leadership,” and provided copies for everyone who attended the event.

“We can’t just read these and let them sit. I believe it’s time for a national conversation,” McMullin said. “This needs to be a national conversation not driven by the media, not driven by Hillary Clinton and definitely not driven by Donald Trump.”

McMullin said the time has come for a new generation of leadership and a new conservative movement.

“I am confident that together we can build both and take this country to a much brighter future than we might otherwise achieve,” McMullin said.

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