Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd said Sunday he was working toward “hitting all the requirements” to qualify for next month’s first GOP primary debate in Milwaukee.
But when it came to the requirement to pledge his support to the eventual GOP nominee – even if that is former President Donald Trump – Hurd said, “I can’t lie to get access to a microphone.”
“I’m not going to support Donald Trump. I recognize the impact that has on my ability to get access to the debate stage, but I can’t lie,” the former Texas congressman told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
Hurd, who launched his presidential bid in late June, had previously told CNN that he “won’t be signing any kind of pledges, and I don’t think parties should be trying to rig who should be on a debate stage.”
To qualify for the debate, Republican candidates have to meet certain polling and donor thresholds as laid out by the RNC. They must also sign a pledge “agreeing to support the eventual party nominee,” the committee has said.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has touted the pledge as a “no-brainer” and a means to avoid division within the GOP. But there has been resistance among certain 2024 GOP hopefuls over committing to support Trump, the current front-runner, who faces mounting legal woes, including two indictments.
Chris Christie, another GOP presidential contender, has slammed the pledge as a “useless idea.”
“It’s only in the era of Donald Trump that you need somebody to sign something on a pledge. So I think it’s a bad idea,” the former New Jersey governor told CNN last month. But he affirmed that he would do what was needed “to be up on the stage to try to save my party and save my country from going down the road of being led by three-time loser Donald Trump”
Another GOP hopeful, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has pushed to amend the pledge and has said he did not think it should be a requirement to participate in the debates.
“You have to make the pledge based on the fact that Donald Trump is not going to be our nominee and you’re confident of it. Therefore, you can sign a statement saying you’re going to support the nominee of the party. I’m not going to, you know, support – just like other voters are not going to support – somebody for president who is under indictment,” Hutchinson told ABC News last month.
Trump has suggested on several occasions that he may not participate in the first Republican presidential debate. Asked by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in February if he would support the eventual GOP nominee if it were not him, the former president said: “It would have to depend on who the nominee was.”
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