Independent candidate Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent, faces an uphill battle - lacking name recognition, money and time. Despite the obstacles, he does have some support among establishment Republicans.
A former CIA agent who has never held elective office and is virtually unknown to the American public announced his candidacy for president on Monday in a bid to give frustrated Republicans an alternative to Donald Trump.
Evan McMullin, a former top House Republican aide, joins two other third party hopefuls - Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Green Party candidate Jill Stein - both of them are polling in the single digits.
"It's never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us," McMullin said on his Facebook page.
"He is running, first and foremost, out of a deep love for this country, and because he understands the true brand of American leadership that is required to be Commander-in-Chief," the email said.
McMullin's "Letter To America" outlining why he had decided to run gave away rather little in terms of his personal politics, concentrating more on the perceived weaknesses of Trump and Clinton. It did allude to a belief in "limited, Constitutional government that is smaller, smarter, and more accountable," while also suggesting McMullin opposed abortion and wanted to rein in the US national debt.
Political views aside, from a purely logistical standpoint, McMullin has virtually zero chance of winning the November 8 election.
At the moment he has no money, though he appears to have some Republican establishment support that could fuel his campaign. His bigger problem is that time is short. The election is just three months away.
Every state has its own deadline for candidates to get their names on each state's respective ballots, and in roughly half of US states, that deadline has already passed.
Big electoral prizes
Texas, the biggest reliably conservative state, with 38 electoral votes (EV), requires third party candidates to submit 79,000 signatures from residents who didn't vote in either party's primary. The deadline for that passed in early May.
Deadlines to get on the ballots have also lapsed in other large states that are up for grabs, including the biggest toss-up prize Florida and its 29 EV, as well as in North Carolina (15 EV).
McMullin could file a lawsuit challenging the deadlines, but there are no assurances he would succeed. Still, he's running on the slogan: "It's never too late."
McMullin has frequently chastised Trump's authoritarian manner on social media, while slamming his position on civil rights, as well as his refusal to release his tax returns.
After working 11 years as an operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, McMullin became the chief policy director for the House Republican Conference (HRC). He worked there from 2013.
In a statement, the HRC said McMullin no longer worked there as of Monday morning.
Trump, meanwhile, is trying to jump start his sputtering campaign. Trump recently became entangled in a verbal fight with the parents of a US soldier who was killed defending his unit in Iraq. The Muslim couple, who emigrated from Pakistan, criticized Trump's xenophobic policies during the Democratic Convention.
bik/msh (Reuters, AFP)