Hello and welcome to the Five to Date Politics podcast, I'm Galen. Today I spoke with congressman from Texas, will heard about his views of President Trump and the future of the Republican Party.
He had some critical words for the president and his own party. And although he's previously said that he plans on voting for President Trump this fall, he now says he's not sure. Representative Hurd is one of only four Republican lawmakers in the House still representing a district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. And he's the only black Republican in the House. He's also retiring at the end of this term. Here's what he had to say. Hello, congressmen, and welcome to the 538 Politics podcast.
Thanks for having me on. I'm pleased to say hi, Gaylan. Right. Isn't that how and how the rest of your team always does it?
You can do it however you want. So there's a lot I want to ask you about, but let's deal with the news of the day first. This morning, President Trump suggested delaying the presidential election, which Congress has the power to do your branch of government. Do you support delaying the election?
We are not an authoritarian government where the head of state gets to decide on a whim when a when the election happens. So, no, this is Congress's role. As you've said, it should go forward, as has been established. And ultimately, look, I'm a I'm of the opinion that we should be increasing the ways for people to vote. The more people the vote, the better off it is. And this is something that I've been able to prove during my time in Congress, that if you take a message to more people, you can get it to resonate with more people.
And we shouldn't be afraid.
As we've mentioned, Congress has the role of deciding the date for the election, but the president has a lot of control over the United States Postal Service. He also has an important say in whether states get funding to help them administer this election. So if the president were to take any moves to make administering the election more difficult through any of the avenues that he had, what would you do?
Well, ultimately, I don't I don't think this is something that's even being discussed up here when it comes to oversight that's been done in these of these entities. Those aren't being debated. The states are pretty clear on their role in how to administer elections. These are debates that have happened, you know, in previous administrations on the state's role is what what I'm speaking of specifically. So as I've always said, tweet is not a government fiat. And this is something, you know, making sure I wouldn't vote for it to change the date.
We should be moving forward. My governor just extended early voting in Texas. I think that's a good move to make sure that people are able to have more opportunity and we should be working. The federal government and especially DHS should be helping the states when it comes to defending the digital infrastructure of our vote.
So a tweet, of course, is not a Fiat. But now that the president of the United States has suggested delaying the election, we have to take it seriously. So if he were to suggest any of the things I laid out, what would you do in response? And what are you doing now to make sure that the legitimacy of the result of the election is believed in people's eyes?
Well, I think this is this is a question that began of prior to twenty sixteen. I was actually when when Republicans were in power in the House, I held the first hearings on the Russian attempts to try to influence our elections. And so protecting the sanctity of our elections is something that I've been involved in and on the leading edge since twenty sixteen. There is no proposals and right now in front of Congress to do this, this is something that neither the Senate nor the House has has an interest in doing.
There has been no language or directions given to postal service based on on what what I've said or what I've seen so far since this morning. So you take this as it comes, but in the end, moving the election is not is not there is there's not something I would support. I think talking about it is even takes focus off of of real issues and is something that is unhelpful and unnecessary right now. And I want to see ways to make voting easier and increase voting, because in the end, you know, we should be giving voters as many options as they can to do this safely, especially as we're dealing with covid-19.
And we'll probably be dealing with covid-19 through the election and well into Q2 of twenty twenty one.
Are you supporting the four billion that Democrats have in their current proposal to help states set up their election infrastructure this fall?
I haven't seen the proposal is out when we're going to vote on that and when that. In front of us, I don't have the data that is four billion, what's ultimately necessary in some of these places. I think that number is probably a little high. I think when it comes to making sure that the hundred thousand plus election districts across the country have the PPE in order to give to their workers to to make sure they can hold these elections early, making sure that we can increase the the the ability to do early voting, increasing that time horizon and the number of people that have access to it.
These are all things that that I'm supportive of in some of the Democratic legislation. There's stuff like the the vote harvesting and things that I am not supportive of. And so if it was something that I think you can get a bipartisan package together, if my colleagues on the other side of the aisle were interested in doing that.
Yeah, let's talk about that bipartisan package now. The increased unemployment benefits expire this week. And what we were just talking about, that three point six billion that Democrats were suggesting for helping election administrators this fall was part of Democrats heroes bill, which has already passed the House. Now, the Senate Republicans in particular, are working on their response. They say they want to put together a package that's one trillion that compares to the Democrats three trillion. They say they want to reduce the unemployment benefit from six hundred dollars to two hundred a week.
And Democrats want to keep it at 600 at this point. What does a compromise bill look like in your eyes? What do you want to vote on?
Look, I think I think I believe even Steny Hoyer, number two Democrat in the House, said that six hundred number can't can probably be negotiated. I think the final number for unemployment support will be somewhere between that six hundred and two hundred. I think there needs to be continued support to folks that are unemployed. I believe there needs to be additional money for front line folks to do the testing. I've been on calls all week the last couple of weeks, to be honest with superintendents throughout my district, 29 counties.
I represent urban San Antonio, which is the seventh largest city in the country to Loving County, which only has ninety five people in the entire in the entire county. And so making sure that superintendents have the tools they need. There's some folks there, some superintendents in my district that would love to run a testing facility at their campus and use some of their own employees in order to test students and teachers and the family members of the students. But they don't have some of the equipment to do that.
We should be providing in an Aquarius 2.0 or 4.0 stimulus for Panaro or whatever you want to call the next the next bill to help to to be able to give the the schools the resources that they need to do this. We also need to figure out how we can help additional resources to to deal with the processing of the tests.
There have been a number of tests being administered across the United States. In my hometown of San Antonio, we've been a leader and in this issue since January when we had the ninety one American citizens brought to San Antonio, Texas, from Wuhan, China, at the beginning of this pandemic. But the bottleneck is in once that sample gets collected, is processing that sample and determining whether it's positive or negative. That's taking, in some cases up to two weeks, which is way too long.
And so how we speed up that process is something that should be in a care package. I also believe you need support to states and local municipalities since the the their funding ability has been has been constricted. This is take Texas, my my home state, for example, in the next budget, they're probably going to have a for 40 billion dollar hole. So, you know, we saw with unemployment the Texas Workforce Commission couldn't keep up with with the demand.
So we need to make sure there's resources for states and such in order to administer those things. So so something that helps with the modernization of these resources should be in another care package as well, too. And all of this I wish this would have all been being negotiated weeks ago and not just happen. You know, over the last week or so, what we're talking about here is a cluster of crises or pandemic or recession.
And on top of that, we're also dealing with our reckoning with systemic racism in the country. You've laid out a lot that you think the government can do at a time like this. Have any of these crises made you rethink the role that you think government should play in society?
Great question. And one one of the things we also left out is we are in a generational defining struggle. With the government of China, the Chinese government is trying to surpass the United States as a global superpower by twenty forty nine, and that's driving when it comes to five jieyi quantum computing and this is going to determine the American economy for a long time, is going to determine the world economy for a long time.
So that's in the back of all these things that we are we are dealing with. Look, when it comes to what the federal government can do and that the federal government can help in some places and make sure that that everybody has equal opportunity in some place, sometimes they can get in the way of creativity and entrepreneurship. So has it changed? My perspective? My goal as a representative is to help people by the bureaucracy who need it badly. And I deal with issues like a woman who lost her husband and was supposed to be getting benefits from the VA.
But for some reason, the VA screws up and that she's not getting those benefits and she may get evicted from her home. So these are these are ways that, you know, is the government helping in that place? In that case, yes. But they're also creating a problem because they're not being efficient and effective. And so in my time in Congress, I've tried to make sure that when government does play a role, that it's being effective and efficient and solving and solving some of these and some of these problems.
So have these things changed my opinions? I don't know if that's the case. I would say I think these these global issues that we're dealing with shows the the role that government at different levels, the role that they that they have to play in the lives of of of of my fellow citizens.
How well do you think the country has responded to the pandemic so far?
I think it's mixed reviews. And so, again, I go back to to my experience, I believe it was a second or third week in January when those ninety one American citizens were brought to San Antonio, Texas, at Lackland Air Force Base. And what we what we saw there, the questions of if somebody at Lackland Air Force Base got tested positive, what did you do with them? They had to leave the base, but the city and the county didn't want somebody transiting the neighborhoods.
What hospital facility did they go to? If this was if this was an increase, what would you do? And so so to me in my hometown of San Antonio, we we've we've we've we've done a good job of working at a at a local level, a state level, and with the federal support from entities like FEMA and CDC. So I think on the ground, we've seen some of that.
Like I said earlier in our conversation overall, do you think the country is doing a good job combating the pandemic?
I know we have the worst. We have the we have increasing death rates. Right. We have the most number of people that are dealing with this. Right. Like like I think the impact has had to the United States of America versus other countries is we're dealing with one of the worst some of the worst cases. We're having debates on whether you should be wearing a mask or not, wear a mask like a mask. You know, it's to protect yourself, but also to protect the people around you.
So why are we why are we debating that this debate and fights around whether schools should open or not? We shouldn't be debating. We should be talking about how do we work together in order to to exceed CDC guidelines on opening schools, not whether or not it should happen.
And so so, yeah. So there's all kinds of there's all kinds of problems. But I'm always trying to work with these these folks that deal with the problem as it is right now. And we couldn't handle we couldn't handle, I think a third I know in Texas, a third of the deaths of coronavirus have been in in nursing homes. That's outrageous. And then also in prisons. And so if we couldn't handle this in nursing homes and prisons, how are we going to be it in an educational environment where it is even more chaotic than those other places?
So so we have we have a long way to go. And guess what this is this is a marathon. This is not a sprint. We're going to be in this probably until at least Q2 of the next year. And so. So, yeah, so so we need we we're not out of the woods. This could potentially get worse. And we're battling and fighting some of the some of the the wrong battles when we should be working together to try to solve these problems and have good health health sources, those wrong battles that you mentioned about masks, about opening schools and so on.
A lot of that is coming from the president of the United States. And right now, his approval rating when it comes to handling the pandemic is negative. Twenty two net, right, 60 percent of Americans think he's not doing a good job. This is a matter of life and death. It's a matter of economics. And for a lot of people, it's going to be what they vote on in the fall. So given your assessment, do you think that President Trump deserves a second term?
Well, I. Based on those numbers, you've shown that he's going to have a hard time earning a second term. What do you think this is? Well, look, I think I want to vote for for someone in an election who's, you know, who's going to inspire the country and not divide us. But this is with ninety seven, six days left in the election. He's had a lot. He's going to have a long way to go in order to change people's opinions and minds.
And I think this, as you said, one of those issues, I'm assuming that shows you all's polling on this. But this is not just the current issue with with with coronavirus. I've been talking about the Republican Party in general for a long time. Needs to start appealing more to communities of color, women with a college degree in the suburbs and people under the age of twenty nine. I you podcast. A couple of weeks ago, you all had an interesting analysis of the GOP and the African-American community, you know, since since since Barry Goldwater.
And when you look at the numbers of what we're of how Republicans are appealing to people, we're going in the wrong directions.
And so the November the November election is is going to be something that's going to decide, you know, Texas has the opposite has we might lose the state house. Texas is purple. It's a jump ball. And if we lose the state house, the impact that's going to have on on redistricting is, you know, is going to define is going to define politics for for a decade.
I want to talk about all of that strategy and what the future of the party looks like. But are you going to vote for Trump this fall?
Like a lot of Americans? I wish I had different options on on the ballot. And I my my plan is always to support a Republican, and we're going to be making those decisions over the next 90 days.
So you're going to decide whether or not to vote for him over the next 90 days.
That's how I always approach my election. I'm just like everybody else.
Well, you previously said that you will vote for Trump this fall. So I'm just wondering if you're hesitant a little bit now.
I think that's accurate. I think that's like you always polling are showing that I'm like everybody else, that this is this is my I don't want to vote for a Joe Biden because in the end, some of the policies, I think that a unified Democratic Party is going to pass in a unified government would be would be tough for the for for the country and the things that I don't support and haven't supported during my time in Congress. And, you know, as somebody who's represented a large competitive district, I know something about competitive districts and what needs to be done in order to win.
And so this is we are we are living in an interesting times. I think is is the is the same.
I understand the desire not to vote for Joe Biden, but I guess more specifically on whether or not you vote for Trump, like what could change your mind in the next 90 days that would make you view him and his presidency differently than what he's shown us so far?
It's a good question. And and who knows? I don't think a year ago you would have we would have been thinking about a global pandemic that would have impacted the the the entire world and brought the world economy to to a standstill. And so that's you know, who knows what can happen over these over these next these next few few weeks. But in the end, what I think that I've been trying to preach to my colleagues is that this is, you know, we have to change as a Republican Party.
We have to start appealing to the broader groups of people. And if we don't, you know, and also if the Republican Party doesn't start looking like America, we're not going to have a Republican Party in America. And I'm a firm believer that having to a strong two party system and a competition of ideas is what leads to to future things. I may probably disagree with you on this notion of driving out the base versus appealing to the middle. I think most people in the political class think driving out the base is the way to go.
But I have learned and I have been successful in races that nobody thought I can win by appealing to a broader group of people.
And that's a strategy that needs to be that needs to be accepted and focus on everything you're saying here makes it sound like you aren't voting for Trump is not the case. I said, as I said, we're going to I don't I don't like either one of my choices and and in the end, we're going to evaluate this over over the next over the next 90 days or ninety six days.
OK, so let's talk about where the Republican Party is headed. Setting that aside, you said that the Republican Party needs to look more like America. And, you know, right now it doesn't. You're the only black lawmaker on the Republican side in the House. Why do you think there are so few black lawmakers in the Republican caucus in the House?
So I think it is the the difficulty of running for office. I think the is I think that's one of them. I I think also when when you know, when I look at where I grew up in San Antonio and my experiences at Texas A&M and growing up in Texas, the people that I got to know and at an early young age where people like George W. Bush and Rick Perry and these are folks that helped craft my political ideology. My my father, you know, has been a Republican for for a long time.
And so I think why they're not more elected officials, I'm trying to help folks from diverse communities and how to run campaigns, how to do the the the the X's and O's when it comes to winning elections. Because because guess what? It's hard. But but but we also need to make sure we're taking a message to different folks. And that's why, you know, I know everybody asked me when I first got elected, how does a black Republican represent a seventy one percent Latino district?
And I say it's because, you know, I work hard and and I show up to communities that had never seen a Republican show up. And you do that multiple times. If you're showing up 90 days before an election, that's called pandering. You have to be in those communities. And that's something that's show up. Showing up is is is half is half the battle. And unfortunately, I think over time, you know, professional political consultants talk about focus on your likely voter, whether that's a Republican primary voter or a Democratic primary voter.
And rather than trying to grow an appeal to a broader group of people, it's hard.
Do you think that part of the reason has to do not just that Republicans aren't going into minority communities to campaign, but that they're actively appealing to a white identity?
Look, I think when you look at a person like Steve King and, you know, Steve King, losing his primary is ultimately a good thing. But when you know folks that that have either been elected as a Republican that say, you know, racist or misogynistic or homophobic things, that hurts the the entire the entire all of us that identify with with being a Republican. And so but but what I have found is that those people are not. That's not everybody.
Are some of those folks doing that? That's not everybody. The fact that Kevin McCarthy took Steve of the off his committees when he made some some anti-Semitic comments, we've you know, those are changing. But over time, have those things been said? Yes. And does that hurt? Yes. And that's why we have to speak out when those when those things do happen. But I believe that if we had folks that are willing to engage in and talk about major principles, you know, two two different communities, we can we can ultimately be successful.
And that's what I've been on the I've been the I've been the example of how to do that.
The question here for someone like you, who has the goal of broadening the Republican Party's appeal, both in terms of voters and what the lawmakers look like is, you know, how do you do that?
Because we've heard this before. We heard this from George W. Bush. We heard this in the 2012 postmortem that essentially said that minorities don't think Republicans like them or want them in this country pretty bluntly and said we need to change that. But then you look at Republican primaries and you see the oftentimes the most extreme voices are the likeliest to win those primaries. A 538 analysis showed that the further right you are on immigration in a Republican primary, the better you do in that primary.
So how do you address that part of the equation?
Well, it's it's the constant how you do it is is straightforward, but it's hard. You've got to you've got to change the nature of the voter. Right. You got you got most people appeal to four or five. Your vote is right, the people that voted for the last four Republican primaries, and it happens on the far left us as well, too. And so you can't you have to make sure that you're appealing to your bringing even new voters into the Republican primary.
And there are a lot of people that vote for Republicans in general elections that don't vote in Republican primaries. I think dragging and bringing those people into those primaries is important as well. And I would say I was once on a on a panel with a woman who was a digital director for the Rock, Dwayne Johnson. This is right. When the movie Mwana was coming out and she said if Mwana came out and it was and it failed at the box office, are you going to blame moviegoers or you could say it was a crummy movie.
Now, I think MoveOn is a good movie, but it's this kind of politics is the only place where we blame voters for not voting rather than saying we're not offering something or a product that people want to come out to do. So it starts with, you know, appealing to a broader group of people and doing the X's and O's that are required to change a voter, not just relying on the folks that are what political consultants call those reliable voters.
It's hard. It's not how campaigns are run. But but I'm the case in point in how we've been able to prove that we're successful.
So so Gailen, I like I said, this is a action packed day. I appreciate I appreciate your time and the chat today. And and I enjoy I enjoy yours. Yes. Products.
I know you have a packed day today. Thank you so much for joining us. Awesome. My name is Gaylan. Tony Chow is in the virtual control room. You can get in touch by emailing us at podcasts at five thirty eight dotcom. You can also, of course, tweet us with any questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show, leave us a rating or review in the Apple podcast store or tell someone about us. Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon.