The following is a transcript of an interview with Will Hurd, a former Texas congressman and current 2024 GOP candidate for president, that aired on “Face the Nation” on Aug. 6, 2023.


MAJOR GARRETT: Welcome back. For the most part, Republican candidates challenging the former president for the Republican Party nomination are treading carefully in their reaction to this latest indictment, fearing that, if not, they’re going to alienate the President’s sizable base of support. That’s not so with former Texas Congressman Will Hurd who joins us this morning. Congressman, good to see you. So you were in Des Moines, and you said to Republicans there that the only reason that the former president is running is to, quote, “stay out of prison.” It was believed that you were booed off that stage. A couple of Republicans texted me in real time that they thought you looked weak. Looking back on that, do you wish you had done that differently? Or said things differently, or acted differently?

FORMER US REP. HURD: Absolutely not. What- what people are missing was that a number of people actually clapped when I said that, and it was the end of the speech. So, I casually walked off, and I- and I stick behind it. And this is one of the things that makes me unique in this race. I’ve been ideologically consistent about Donald Trump since 2015. I’ve thought he’s been a national security threat to the country and was incapable of growing our brand. I’m- I’m the only one that has never bent a knee to Donald Trump, and- and that’s not going to change. Because we- if we want to win elections, we gotta be talking about, how do we have unprecedented peace at a time when the Chinese government is trying to surpass us as the global superpower? How do we have world class education at a time when our kids are failing in math, science and reading, some of the worst scores in this century? These are the issues that we’re talking about, not talking about Donald Trump’s baggage. And if people agree with that, I need them to go on hurdforamerica.com and give at least $1 to help me get on the debate stage.

MAJOR GARRETT: What does it tell you, Will Hurd, when you see the President’s polling, your polling, the vast distance between the two, and the sentiment expressed by Republicans over and over and over again, that they’re with Trump and not with people like you, who criticize him so harshly?

REP. HURD: Sure, the election’s 25 weeks away, a lot can change. And anybody who thinks that these are overwhelming odds, I would tell them I disagree with them. Nobody thought a Black Republican could win in a 72% Latino district on 820 miles of the border. But it happened, because I showed up to places that people didn’t expect me to be. National polls- running for president is not- is not a national election. It’s 50 elections. And this is going to always tighten. And the goal is–

MAJOR GARRETT: True enough, but you can’t cite a single state poll where you’re even in double digits. 

REP. HURD: Well, because the election’s not today, or it’s not tomorrow, the election is 25 weeks away. In order to build a campaign and talk to the people that are sick and tired of where the country is going, it takes time. Two-thirds of Americans do not want Donald Trump or Joe Biden on- on the ballot. Like, that is clear and that has always been the case. And we also know if Donald Trump is the nominee for the Republican Party, we’re giving four more years to Joe Biden. So let me be clear, Major, that the goal is not to peak tomorrow. The goal is to peak before the first- the first election.

MAJOR GARRETT: Okay, let’s talk about something that’s not 25 weeks away, but much sooner: the first Republican debate. Will you qualify for that debate stage? And, if so, how?

REP. HURD: I haven’t hit the- I haven’t hit the number yet, but I feel confident. 

MAJOR GARRETT: 40,000 unique donors?

REP. HURD: Yeah, I- I feel confident that we’re gonna get to that place.

MAJOR GARRETT: How close are you?

REP. HURD: I- I- I’m close. 

[CROSSTALK]

MAJOR GARRETT: Define “close.” Is it 10,000?

REP. HURD: I’m not gonna get into the details. I’m close. And that’s why I need the people that are watching this show to go on hurdforamerica.com, donate at least $1, to make sure that they have someone who is ideologically consistent, meet the requirements to be on the debate stage.

MAJOR GARRETT: Why are you still a Republican?

REP. HURD: I- I’m still a Republican because I believe in a- a strong foreign policy. I believe in freedom, I believe in actual personal responsibility. That’s not always reflected in many of the people that are in the party. But here’s where it is reflected.

MAJOR GARRETT: Is it reflective of what Donald Trump does? 

REP. HURD: No, not at all. But there’s more people that identify with–

MAJOR GARRETT: –So, Donald Trump is not a good Republican?

REP. HURD: I don’t think he’s a good Republican at all. You know, Donald Trump is- is Donald Trump. And- and I believe in these- these- the timeless principles of the party, because I think that leads to limitless potential. And when you look at- when I think about the party, most people say, is it the former president? Is it our elected officials? In the- I believe it’s the people that are willing to vote for a Republican? And here’s what I’ve learned criss crossing this country: there are more people that are sick and tired of the direction the Democratic Party is going. And what they want is someone who’s not a jerk, who’s not a racist, who’s not a misogynist, who’s not someone who’s a homophobe. You know, this is the opportunity the Republican Party has, and that’s the brand–

MAJOR GARRETT: –The four words you just used, do all of them apply to former President Trump?

REP. HURD: At times, absolutely. And at times, other places and other candidates that are in this race. Guess what? Slavery, there’s no upside to slavery. We shouldn’t have to be having that conversation in 2023.

MAJOR GARRETT: Will Hurd, Republican candidate for the presidency in 2024. Thanks for being with us. 

REP. HURD: Thank you.