Hurd knocks DeSantis ahead of first GOP debate: His campaign is ‘circling the drain’

Former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) went after fellow presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday, saying his campaign is “circling the drain” after a leaked debate prep memo suggests he stand behind former President Trump at the first GOP debate next week.

Hurd said in a CNN interview that he wants to be “speaking truth to power,” and is planning to attend the debate in Milwaukee if he can meet the criteria before then.

“I’m not going to be like Ron DeSantis and defend Donald Trump, which is absolutely crazy,” he said. “The Ron DeSantis campaign is circling the drain. The fact that they’re having to cut so much staff, they don’t have the resources to do their own debate prep.”

The leaked memo, drafted by members of the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, suggests DeSantis defend Trump from attacks by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the former president’s most vocal opponents. Hurd also has been an open critic of Trump.

“The strategy itself is flawed,” he said. “If you’re afraid to take on Donald Trump then you shouldn’t be on that stage and you shouldn’t be running for president.”

Hurd has not yet qualified for the Wednesday debate in Wisconsin. While his campaign announced Thursday he reached the 40,000 donor threshold, he is still one poll short of qualifying.

The former Texas lawmaker only has three opportunities left in the coming week to garner the 1 percent support needed in a national or state poll and make the debate stage.

On Wednesday, Hurd said he was confident he would make the Monday deadline to qualify.

“I’m pretty confident we’re going to be able to hit those requirements,” he said.

The DeSantis strategy has been focused too much on the negative, Hurd added, arguing it won’t win over any voters.

“The other thing that was missing in that campaign memo was how do you articulate what your vision for the future is? It was just about attacking other people versus laying out a plan for America,” he said.

“America wants someone who is not afraid of Donald Trump, but is articulating a vision for the future,” Hurd continued. “That’s what that campaign memo should have said.”

DeSantis has slipped in recent weeks as his campaign attempts to reset its strategy. He turned over a significant amount of staff and replaced his campaign manager in the last month, and donors fear he may not be able to beat Trump without changes.

Hurd is polling at about 0.3 percent in recent national polling averages. Trump leads the field with nearly 55 percent support, while DeSantis is in second with about 15 percent, estimates show.

Tags 2024 GOP debates 2024 GOP primary 2024 presidential election Donald Trump Ron DeSantis Will Hurd