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2011 Wharton MBA graduate and independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin is in a statistical tie with Donald Trump in Utah. // Courtesy of TEDx London Business School

Two Wharton graduates clashed in a very public way over the weekend as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump denounced independent candidate Evan McMullin for taking "votes away" from him. 

1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump called 2011 Wharton MBA graduate McMullin a "puppet" of The Weekly Standard editor and frequent Trump critic Bill Kristol, according to a report from Politico

“The guy takes votes away from me. You know, we’re going to win in Utah. But he takes votes away from me, this man who I never heard of … ” Trump said in an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. 

In an Oct. 27 Salt Lake Tribune/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll, Trump is in a statistical tie with McMullin, a Utah native and graduate of Brigham Young University, among likely voters in the state. If Trump were to lose Utah, which has voted for the Republican nominee since 1964, his race to beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton would narrow considerably. 

McMullin, a former CIA employee and chief policy director for the House of Representatives Republican Conference, responded to Trump's comments on Twitter: