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Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd suspends GOP 2024 presidential bid, endorses Nikki Haley

Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's banquet, Sept. 16, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Bryon Houlgrave
Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's banquet, Sept. 16, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.

WASHINGTON — Former Republican Texas congressman Will Hurd suspended his presidential bid on Monday and endorsed fellow GOP primary candidate Nikki Haley, officially abandoning a brief campaign built on criticizing Donald Trump at a time when his party seems even more determined to embrace the former president.

"While I appreciate all the time and energy our supporters have given, it is important to recognize the realities of the political landscape and the need to consolidate our party around one person to defeat both Donald Trump and President Biden," Hurd wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

He added that Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump and governor of South Carolina, "has shown a willingness to articulate a different vision for the country than Donald Trump and has an unmatched grasp on the complexities of our foreign policy."

Hurd was the last major candidate to join the already crowded Republican primary field when he announced his run in late June. He leaves the race barely three months later, after failing to gain traction as pragmatic moderate who pledged to lead the party away from Trump's "Make America Great Again" movement. Hurd failed to qualify for both the first GOP debate in Milwaukee in August and the second debate the following month in Simi Valley, California.

"America is at a crossroads and it's time to come together and make Joe Biden a one-term president," Haley wrote on X in response to Hurd's endorsement. "Thank you @WillHurd for your support and confidence. We have a country to save!"

Hurd ending his campaign follows another Republican candidate, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who became the first presidential hopeful to suspend his campaign shortly after failing to make the first debate stage.

Hurd wasn't invited to the Milwaukee event after falling short of Republican National Committee minimums on support in the polls and sufficient numbers of donors to his campaign.

Hurd was initially defiant about missing the first debate, arguing that the Republican Party blocked him for refusing to sign a pledge for its presidential candidates to support the eventual primary winner, even if it was Trump. The RNC standards are "arbitrary, unclear, and lack consistency. This is an unacceptable process for a presidential election," he said in a statement.

When he didn't make the second debate, Hurd stuck a different tone, writing on X that "we narrowly missed the cut for the second debate and our campaign is at an inflection point."

A clandestine CIA officer who worked in Pakistan, Hurd served three terms in the House through January 2021 and was the chamber's only Black Republican during his final two years in office. He represented Texas' then-most competitive district, which was heavily Hispanic and stretched from the outskirts of San Antonio to El Paso, encompassing more than 800 miles of Texas-Mexico border.

Hurd opted not to seek reelection in 2020, saying he was pursuing opportunities outside Congress "to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security." Last year, he traveled the country promoting his book "American Reboot: An Idealist's Guide to Getting Big Things Done."

The 46-year-old has long been a fierce Trump antagonist, even encouraging the then-Republican presidential nominee to leave the 2016 race when the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women was made public in the final weeks before Election Day.

Hurd was hoping to resonate with voters seeking a pro-business Republican with a strong national security background who was also unafraid to seek bipartisan consensus. He announced his candidacy criticizing both Biden and Trump, saying the president wasn't up to securing the U.S.-Mexico border, combating fentanyl smuggling that has led to epidemic of American overdoses and violent crime and homelessness in the country's cities.

"President Biden can't solve these problems — or won't," Hurd said in his announcement video. "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."

Hurd stepped up his public criticism of Trump as the former president was repeatedly indicted and now faces four separate criminal cases and 91 total charges. Trump still holds a fundraising advantage and commanding lead in early primary polls.

As a result, Hurd's few memorable moments as a White House candidate came when he was heckled by Republican crowds after repeating assertions that Trump, should he clinch the GOP nomination, would lose the general election to Biden.

"Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison," Hurd declared at a July GOP dinner in Iowa. When sustained booing followed, he responded, "Listen, I know the truth is hard."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press
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