SALT LAKE CITY -- Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, a serious contender to win Utah this election, said he has received death threats in recent days.
"Trump supporters are spreading lies about who I am and my policy positions and now we're even receiving threats from the white supremacists," McMullin told reporters ahead of an appearance at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.
McMullin said he had reported the threats to the U.S. Secret Service. He said he's been attacked by white nationalists for his Mormon faith and the faith of his running mate, Mindy Finn, who is Jewish.
In the final days of the election, McMullin and Finn are campaigning across the state to win Utah, which he has helped make a battleground state. Depending on the poll, McMullin is either ahead of or slightly behind Republican nominee Donald Trump, with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in third place. McMullin has been winning voters who have rejected Trump.
"If we want better leaders in this country, we must now take a stand on principle," McMullin said in response Wednesday.
McMullin was frequently mentioned at a rally in support of Trump on Tuesday, where top Republican leaders in Utah called on voters to "come home" to the GOP. Some shouted "Never McMullin" while speakers said a vote for him is a vote for Clinton.
"It shouldn't be about coming home to a particular person, especially if that person attacks our most fundamental values and attacks Americans based on their race, their faith, their gender," McMullin said in response. "That can't be coming home."
McMullin said he has had numerous Republicans tell him privately that they support him, but they have been threatened with punishment by their party leaders. In response, Utah GOP Chairman James Evans said some county party bylaws do prevent endorsements of third-party candidates.
Evans also reacted to the death threats, noting that he has also received threats from white nationalists as well as people who oppose Trump. (Evans is African-American.)
At Wednesday's appearance at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, McMullin and Finn took questions from students. One man asked what McMullin would do about the "problem of political correctness." McMullin said the problem was racism, misogyny and bigotry.
Another asked McMullin and Finn what their goals were after the election. Finn replied their ticket was trying to block both Trump and Clinton from winning the necessary Electoral College votes, but she acknowledged it was a long shot with Clinton.
"I take no pleasure in the state of the Republican party right now," Finn told the crowd, adding that her hope was a "new conservative movement" would be born that is more inclusive of people that Trump has rejected.
"If the party fails to reform," she said. "I think it will be time for a new party."