Former Texas congressman Will Hurd, a Trump critic, announces 2024 Republican presidential campaign

Hurd, who made the announcement on CBS, served three terms in the House through January 2021, becoming the chamber’s only Black Republican during his final two years in office.

Former Texas congressman Will Hurd, a onetime CIA officer and fierce critic of Donald Trump, announced on Thursday that he’s running for president, hoping to build momentum as a more moderate alternative to the Republican primary field’s early front-runner.

Hurd, who made the announcement on CBS, served three terms in the House through January 2021, becoming the chamber’s only Black Republican during his final two years in office.

“This morning I filed to be Republican nominee for president of the United States,” he said on “CBS Mornings.”

FILE – Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd speaks during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Spring Kick-Off Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Clive, Iowa. Hurd, a onetime CIA officer and fierce critic of Donald Trump, announced on Thursday that he’s running for president, hoping to build momentum as a more moderate alternative to the Republican primary field’s early front-runner. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Hurd said in a video launching his White House bid that the “soul of our country is under attack,” reminiscent of Democrat Joe Biden’s slogan about the 2020 race being a “battle for the soul of the nation.”

“Our enemies plot, create chaos, and threaten the American Dream. At home, illegal immigration and fentanyl stream into our country. Inflation, still out of control. Crime and homelessness growing in our cities,” Hurd says in the video. “President Biden can’t solve these problems — or won’t. And if we nominate a lawless, selfish, failed politician like Donald Trump — who lost the House, the Senate, and the White House — we all know Joe Biden will win again.”

Democrats won control of the House in 2018 and the Senate in 2020 but saw the GOP retake the House majority during last year’s midterms.

Hurd has long struck a similar tone. He tweeted last summer that “the GOP can’t build sustainable majorities if our candidates are praising Hitler on the radio, getting arrested by the FBI for participating in the insurrection or being evaluated solely on their loyalty to the guy who lost the last election.”

Although Hurd is no fan of Trump, he also has been critical of Biden, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” in May that the prospect of another election pitting the current president against the former one would be “the rematch from hell.”

Hurd has visited Iowa and New Hampshire in recent months, and those close to him said he was seriously mulling a presidential run since early spring. Trump’s recent indictment on federal felony charges for mishandling classified documents could potentially open the way for critics like Hurd to gain traction in the primary.

Hurd joins a crowded primary field with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, anti-woke activist Vivek Ramaswamy, radio host Larry Elder and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, in addition to Trump.

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Nikki Haley. (Photo: Getty Images)

Most of the Republican candidates in the race are trying to run more against Biden than against Trump, who largely remains popular among GOP voters. But Hurd joins Christie and Hutchinson in his willingness to criticize Trump and his continued hold on the national Republican Party.

Other critics of the former president within the party, including New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, flirted with White House runs but ultimately decided against them.

Hurd has pushed back against top Republicans who have rushed to criticize federal authorities in bringing charges against Trump. He tweeted last August that “Trump and his lawyers admitted to and then handed over presidential documents improperly taken from and stored outside the White House. Of course the FBI had probable cause to go in looking for more.”

Hurd, 45, opted not to seek reelection to the House in 2020, saying then that he preferred to “pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.” Last year, he traveled the country on a tour to promote his book, “American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done.”

Hurd represented his state’s then-most competitive district, which was heavily Hispanic and stretched from the outskirts of San Antonio to El Paso and encompassed more than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) of the 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) Texas-Mexico border.

Before serving in Congress, Hurd was a clandestine officer who worked in Pakistan. He speaks Urdu, that country’s national language.

Although he joins the packed GOP primary with little national profile, Hurd built a reputation in Congress as pro-business and pragmatic, unafraid to seek bipartisan consensus. When a snowstorm canceled flights to Washington in 2017, he rented a car and drove for two days from San Antonio to the nation’s capital with Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a progressive Democrat from El Paso who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2020.

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 19: U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) questions Jennifer Williams, adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for European and Russian Affairs, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, National Security Council Director for European Affairs, during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony during the third day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump, who House Democrats say withheld U.S. military aid for Ukraine in exchange for Ukrainian investigations of his political rivals. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin – Pool/Getty Images)

Hurd has focused much of his career on cybersecurity issues but was removed from a keynote speaking slot at a 2019 cybersecurity conference because of his past votes in support of Republican positions on abortion restrictions and against a bill that would financially support women in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

He has been critical of many of the hot-button social issues promoted by other Republicans, tweeting back in 2019 that “Our culture wars have grown to every facet of American life.”

“This winner-take-all mentality in our politics where the losing side feels compromise will lead to extinction, and that resistance to their POV is intolerance, will prevent us from making the rest of this century ours,” he wrote then, using the acronym for “point of view.”

More recently, Hurd has suggested that political divisions have helped hold the country back.

“If there’s one thing you need to know about me,” Hurd told a crowd in Iowa in April, “I think America is the greatest country on Earth, and we’re better together.”

His entering the race keeps alive Texas’ longest-in-the-nation streak of having at least one presidential major candidate who rose to public prominence in the state or lived there while running for or holding office. The last time Texas didn’t have a major presidential hopeful was 1972.

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