AUSTIN (Nexstar) — On Wednesday, Republican candidates for president are scheduled to meet on stage in Milwaukee for the first debate leading up to the 2024 primary. The only Texan in the race, former Congressman Will Hurd, is still trying to earn a spot on the stage.
Candidates have to meet requirements for polling and campaign contributions to participate in the debate. Candidates must register at least 1% support in three national polls or a mix of national and early-primary state polls. They also must have campaign contributions from at least 40,000 donors.
Hurd recently passed the donor threshold. On Wednesday, he hit the 1% in a poll released by Quinnipiac University, putting him closer to the polling requirement.
“I feel good that folks are going to be able to see me on the debate stage,” Hurd told KXAN’s Jennifer Sanders during an interview Wednesday afternoon.
But there’s one other requirement that could keep Hurd off the debate stage. Debate participants have to sign a pledge that they will support the eventual GOP nominee. Hurd says he won’t sign the pledge.
“My issue is not that I’m going to say, I won’t support the Republican nominee. My issue is I won’t support Donald Trump,” Hurd said. He pointed out that Trump himself refused to sign the pledge.
Hurd said once his campaign meets the other requirements he would try to reach an agreement to take part in the debate. “We’ll engage with the RNC and see how the process evolves. I mean, in my adult life, I’ve never signed a contract that I didn’t have amendments to,” Hurd said.
Hurd has made a point of criticizing Trump in his campaign. He told an audience in Iowa that Trump was running for president to stay out of prison. The statement was met with loud booing from the crowd. Despite the response, Hurd stands by his position and approach to the campaign.
“I’m not a political scientist, but I have won tough elections, and you don’t win an election by kissing your opponents behind,” Hurd said.
He pointed to polling that shows while Trump has high popularity among Republican voters, he has higher negative numbers among independents and Democrats. Hurd believes the Republican party needs to move on from Trump.
“If we want to have a candidate that can challenge Joe Biden, if we want to talk about how do you secure the border, how do you win this new Cold War with the Chinese government, how do you ensure we have a thriving economy at a time when things like artificial intelligence is going to up in every single industry, then we actually have to put a nominee up, that could win in November,” Hurd said, arguing that Trump’s negatives outweigh what he brings to the campaign.
“What most voters want, whether you’re Republican voters, independent voters, or Democrats who are frustrated with the direction of the Democratic Party, you want someone who’s not afraid of Donald Trump, but who’s also articulating another vision for the future,” Hurd said.