Former Republican Representative and presidential candidate Will Hurd navigated boos and jeers in Iowa on Friday after declaring that former US President Donald Trump was running for president “to stay out of prison.”
Hurd’s speech at the Iowa Republican’s Lincoln Dinner was part of an event featuring a majority of the 2024 Republican field, including Trump, who spoke later in the evening.
The former Texas congressman, who trails Trump significantly in national polls, blamed the former president’s 2020 loss on his failure “to grow the GOP brand” in certain areas before launching into an attack on his current White House bid.
“One of the things we need in our elected leaders: For them to tell the truth, even if it’s unpopular,” Hurd said.
“Donald Trump is not running for president to Make America Great Again. Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 and 2020. Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison.”
The remark sparked boos and jeers from the Iowa crowd as the candidate neared the end of his speech.
“And if we elect... I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,” said Hurd as he pressed on over the crowd’s noise.
“Listen, I know the truth. The truth is hard. But if we elect Donald Trump, we are willingly giving Joe Biden four more years in the White House, and America can’t handle that. God bless you, and God bless America.”
Hurd’s comments arrive one day after special counsel Jack Smith filed three new felony charges against Trump in the investigation on the former president’s handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Smith previously charged Trump with a total of 37 felony federal counts linked to his handling of classified documents last month.
The jab follows calls from New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, who teased but ultimately opted out of a White House bid, for Republican candidates to be more critical in campaigning against Trump.
“Either you’re willing to swing, you’re willing to give the punch and take the punch and show leadership, or you’re kowtowing,” said Sununu in an interview on Fox News last week.
“I don’t understand the politics of it because you’re not going to get a Trump voter, right? They’re with Trump. If the base is with Trump, the base is with Trump. He’s still going to be in the race. So you’ve got to find your own path. ... You’ve got to go through him. You can’t go around him. They tried that in ’16. They tried to avoid the controversy. Leadership takes it head-on.”