If you’ve been listening to this show for the past few months, maybe even since the 2022 midterms, you probably think I sound like something of a broken record when it comes to my advice for politicians today. Again and again, I’ve said the following: elections right now are Republicans’ to lose. Biden’s approval numbers are low—41.2 percent-—which is lower than every president at this stage of their term in the last 75 years, other than Jimmy Carter.
It seems to me that all Republicans need to do is stand still and be normal, and they’d win. (Instead, the GOP often seems more focused on Bud Light and books about gay penguins with two moms.)
So when former Texas congressman Will Hurd announced he was running for president last month, I thought, at long last, a normal Republican candidate. And not just that—one with an impeccable pedigree and reputation. A Republican who has never bent the knee to Trump. A Republican who is sensible, sober, and highly respected for his bipartisanship. The kind of textbook candidate that will set your heart aflutter if you count yourself among the legions of the sane and moderate.
So. . . why is Hurd polling in last place? Has my advice over the last few months been misguided? Is the Republican Party just too far gone, too changed at this point for someone as normal as Will Hurd? On today’s episode, I ask him.
Hurd spent nearly a decade as an undercover operative for the CIA in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, during the height of the war on terror. In 2010, he left the agency to start his political career and in 2014, he was elected to Congress, becoming the only black Republican on the House floor. For three consecutive terms, Hurd represented one of Texas’s most sprawling districts, a district that is two-thirds Latino and covers much of the border with Mexico, from San Antonio to El Paso.
In a profile of Hurd in The Atlantic last year, appropriately titled “Revenge of the Normal Republicans,” the reporter Tim Alberta wrote this: Will Hurd knows that “a leader can’t emerge without a movement, and a movement manifests only with the inspiration of a leader. He also knows that some people view him as uniquely qualified to meet this moment: a young, robust, eloquent man of mixed race and complete devotion to country, someone whose life is a testament to nuance and empathy and reconciliation. What Hurd doesn’t know is whether America is ready to buy what he’s selling.”
So which is it: Are Americans ready to buy what Hurd is selling? Or has that ship simply sailed?
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