SALT LAKE CITY — Independent presidential candidate and Utah native Evan McMullin sent out a fundraising email Monday to a list of supporters purchased from the GOP's 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney.
The email from McMullin does not mention Romney or a possible endorsement, although "Romney for President Inc." and a Massachusetts address appears in small print at the bottom.
"We're just very thankful for his assistance in this way, and we'll let other folks discuss what that may mean and certainly never speak for the governor," said Joel Searby, McMullin's chief strategist.
In response to questions about the list, Romney spokeswoman Leah Malone said in a statement that the "Romney for President email list is rented by political and commercial entities."
Malone said the list "was rented by several political candidates in the presidential primary, and by countless other political and commercial users in the time since the 2012 campaign."
McMullin, a former CIA officer and policy director for U.S. House Republicans, got in the race this summer as a conservative alternative to the major party candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Romney, who criticized Trump as a phony and a fraud in a high-profile speech at the University of Utah earlier this year, backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Utah's presidential preference caucus vote in March.
But Romney has not gotten behind a candidate on the November ballot, although he has looked at the Libertarian ticket that has a fellow former Massachusetts governor, William Weld, in the No. 2 spot.
Searby said an endorsement from Romney, who shares McMullin's Mormon faith and ties to Utah, "could dramatically impact the race." McMullin's campaign strategy requires him to win at least one state, most likely Utah.
Under that strategy, both Trump and Clinton would also have to fail to win the necessary electoral votes needed to secure the presidency, forcing the election to be decided by the U.S. House.
McMullin's email asks for contributions of as little as $5 "to send a message that it's time for a new generation of conservative leadership." He writes that "our votes show where we stand in the fight between good and evil in this world."
Searby said the campaign paid "fair market value" to use the list of 2.5 million names from Romney for President, a significant boost to the 150,000 people across the country who have signed up online for information about McMullin's campaign.