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White House hopeful and former Congressman Will Hurd on the race to dethrone Trump

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Will Hurd has an interesting resume - former CIA officer, former Texas congressman. And now he's trying to add one more thing to it - president. The Republican is one of many who are challenging former President Trump in the party's presidential nominating contest. He sat down with the NPR Politics Podcast co-hosts Asma Khalid and Susan Davis to talk about why he thinks former President Trump is vulnerable.

WILL HURD: When you start drilling down state by state, the actual numbers of Donald Trump support is not as overwhelming as some of these national polls. The national polls is a snapshot in time. We've learned that since going back to 2016. And so it's real simple. Trump has a group of voters that are not going to leave him, period, full stop. But there's more people that dislike him. That's why I think it's crazy that some of my opponents in this race are kissing his butt because, guess what? You're not going to get his supporters. Being a clone of - being a crappy clone when the real thing is in, you're not going to get movement.

And so there is a lot of voters out there where it's a jump ball, that if we put forward the right candidate, the GOP in 2024 can have crazy victories up and down the ballot if we had the right candidate. And so, yes, I'm running in a Republican primary. But when you really look at who that Republican primary electorate is, at mass, there's more people that dislike Donald Trump than like Donald Trump. And then you can bifurcate that electorate even smaller.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: When you were in Congress, you broke with the party a lot.

HURD: (Laughter).

DAVIS: But you did not on the issue of Trump's first impeachment. You left Congress before the second impeachment happened. We - as we sit here, we are awaiting a likely indictment of criminal charges against Donald Trump for his role in trying to defraud the election and potentially the attack on the Capitol. Do you think you would have voted for that impeachment based on this standard that you're saying, that an actual crime had to have been committed?

HURD: Yes, because the very specific thing of the phone call to the Georgia secretary of state...

DAVIS: Yeah.

HURD: ...Asking the Georgia secretary of state to knowingly violate the law. And then when you look at some of the evidence the January 6 committee produced about Donald Trump, knowing that this election - that he lost the election, when you look at the data and some of the information that came out of the Fox News court case...

DAVIS: Yeah.

HURD: ...With - I forget the name of the - I'm drawing a blank on the company.

DAVIS: Dominion Voting.

HURD: Dominion. You know, the fact that everybody in Fox News knew that Donald Trump lost, and people knew that. So to me, that meets the requirement of a violation of the law. And just that - this - that conversation with Brad Raffensperger was - would have been enough for me to vote.

DAVIS: Let me put a finer point on it. Do you think Donald Trump himself is a threat to U.S. democracy?

HURD: Yes. Donald Trump is a threat to national security, period, full stop. Right? And guess who loves all this drama? Guess who loves all this back-and-forth? Our adversaries. They're laughing that we're having to potentially have another indictment. They're laughing that Donald Trump has tons of baggage. They're laughing that Donald Trump had to get a $225 million loan because his businesses were failing, and he needed to do this in order for him to run for office, right?

So our adversaries are super excited about this. They also know how terrible Donald Trump was when it came to our alliances around the world. They also know that some of his trade policies were terrible, the fact that, you know, he upended agriculture in the United States so bad that the government had to bail out, you know, a bunch of farmers because of terrible trade policies. And he changed the geopolitical - global supply chains when it came to industries like sorghum in the United States. And so yes, he absolutely is, but the best way to be done with Donald Trump once and for all is to beat him in a primary.

CHANG: Will Hurd makes the case for his own policies in a longer conversation on the NPR Politics Podcast, which is available now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.