tv A Conversation with Representative William Hurd R-TX CSPAN April 8, 2015 9:00pm-9:31pm EDT
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> the next washington journal is live from the daily collar. we will talk with tucker carlson about the media landscape. and they conversation with patrick howley about the republican agenda in congress and the race for presidential
nomination. washington journal on c-span at 7:00 a.m. eastern. >> this sunday on q and a senior editor andrew ferguson on the gop presidential candidates for 2016 and what voters are looking for in a candidate. >> they want somebody who looks like he has stood up for them. i am amazed at the degree to which primary voters on both sides are motivated by resentment. and the sense of being put upon. those people really do not understand us. here is a guy who understands us and is going to stick it to them. that happens on both sides. hillary clinton will give her own version. i do not think that was actually
true 30 years ago. resentment has always been part of politics, obviously. but the degree to which it is almost exclusively the motivating factor in committed republicans and democrats. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific. >> next, a conversation with freshman congressman will hurd of texas. he previously served in the cia. this is 25 minutes. host: congressman will hurd from the 23rd congressional district. it includes nearly 5000 square miles, a thousand miles of border along texas and mexico. how do you manage it? rep. hurd: i put a lot of miles
on the car. 800 miles of border. it is gigantic. that is one of the reasons i love the district. we have beautiful parts of the state. this is why a pretty much no name fresh face was able to win the district. because of the amount of time we spent crisscrossing it. so i burn up my shoe leather. host: with the demographics of the district, what struck you the most as you traveled? rep. hurd: san antonio is the most populous city in the district. i was born and raised. my parents still live in house i was born in on the eastern end of the district. the western end is el paso. a large city covered by two members of congress. in between, you have castro bill. alpine.
it is a 67% hispanic district. when you have such a rural part and urban centers of san antonio and el paso, at one end of the district, people have one opinion. in the middle it is a different opinion. the thing that struck me the most when i was crisscrossing counties is that people care about national security. they are worried about their future and the safety of their children and families. that was great because of my background. i spent a decade as an undercover officer in the cia. host: if you were to travel from one end of the district to the other, how long would it take? rep. hurd: about 11 hours going 80 miles per hour. speed limit in most places is 75. if you go a couple over, you are ok. host: have you ever been pulled over? rep. hurd: i have.
one of the things that is important for me is that my d.c. staff understands the district. to get out there and see it. the first time my chief of staff was driving, we got pulled over. host: what did you tell the officer? rep. hurd: he said slow it down. it was late at night. they were just saying be careful. great folks throughout the district. i do not know if he recognized me or not. but they were making sure we were being safe. host: you are the first african-american republican since reconstruction to be elected. how did that come about? rep. hurd: it was funny getting appeared to washington dc. the first question i was asked was how the black dude won in a hispanic district. my dad is originally from east
texas. my mom grew up in indiana. they met in los angeles and moved to san antonio in 1971. my father is african-american, my mother is white. they were an interracial couple in south texas in the 70's. now their youngest son is a member of congress. when they first went to san antonio, they had difficulty buying a home. now i am representing my hometown. part of that is because people are no longer voting on the color of your skin. people knew what was going to work hard and get things done. that i was going to work across the aisle. that i have the experience you need. no one here has that. for me, it is about working hard. whether you are black, brown, or anything, people care about a couple of things. they want food on the table, a
roof over their head, and the people that they love to be healthy and happy. when you address those issues, it is going to resonate with people. host: you are different from the president in terms of parties. if you have a sense of his background and what it was like him to grow up in a similar situation? rep. hurd: i am aware. there are a number of people who have had this experience. it is great using it. you learn to be empathetic, to excel in places where you are the only person looks like you. i learned the skill that was helpful in the cia. it is an honor to represent my hometown. i think it is a great example of how texas has evolved. they are putting people in office because of who they are. host: and a graduate of texas and -- a&m.
what does that mean for you? rep. hurd: we have a code of honor. we do not lie, cheat, or steel. more of that in d.c. would make it a better place. i am proud to be an aggie. i learned about representing people. i was student -- vice president of the student body during the bonfire collapse. it killed 12 kids. in 1999, it was the worst accident on the college campus. to help lead the family through what was the darkest time in our history was an honor. i would give thee experience of if those kids were still alive. but to me, it solidified what it means to be part of the aggie family. i was able to leverage that in my run for congress. it is a great school.
it is awesome representing my alma mater. and the system has a school in san antonio in the district. it is cool to represent part of my alma mater. host: explain the circumstances that led to the collapse and how you responded. rep. hurd: this was what we did to show our desire to be rival university of texas. it is a multi tiered bonfire. it is gigantic. it is all student run and built. when it collapsed, there was a lot of rain. it caused the ground to shift. the center poles that held up the thing cracked. it caused spinning and stress and the thing collapsed.
when it collapsed, i was asleep. it happened about 2:00 in the morning. one of my friends call me and said, you should probably get up here. about 11 minutes after the collapse i was on campus and involved in all aspects of it. helping to rescue the kids and dealing with press. also making sure loved ones knew where they could go to get information about their sons and daughters, brothers. host: how did the tradition change after the incident? rep. hurd: it does not happen anymore. the year before that was the last time the bonfire burned. host: why student leadership? why did you decide to become president? rep. hurd: i was not going to go to texas a& m. i wanted to go to stanford. i got accepted to stanford. i got a scholarship to go.
i went to texas because i had a counselor at my high school, big aggie, who kept badgering me to go for a visit. i had some friends who lived there. i said if i go for a visit, will you leave me alone? he said yes. so i went to watch a football game. and i fell in love with the opportunities to get involved. there is something special at texas. i'm excited to run for president because i had been in bold on campus -- involved on campus. so i decided to run. my buddies decided to help me. host: how did the experience train you for running for congress? rep. hurd: at the time, it was 45,000 student. that is undergraduate.
when you add graduates and professors and administrators you're talking 80,000 people. it taught me how to work with diverse people, ideologically. it taught me the importance of sticking to your principles. and committed individuals can change the world. and so it was a good test run. i never would have thought i would run for congress after that. but it showed how to get a message out. host: how do you approach the job of being a member of congress? what is your routine in congress and at your district? rep. hurd: iran -- i ran to be a leader on national security. the district is huge. 50% of the vote comes from san
antonio. some of the other counties because they are so far away they do not get represented. my title is representative. the way we spend a good deal of my time, we are here monday through thursday, then i am back in the district every weekend. i try to fly in and out of san antonio two weekends a month. and deal with that part of the district there. we focus our legislative efforts on the things that resonate in the district. and are key in my background. the fact that i am a chairman of the subcommittee on information technology is a great opportunity to leverage my experience and background with a degree in computer science. i did offense of cyber operations in the cia. when i left the cia and ran for
congress, i was part of a consulting firm and started a cyber security company. to be able to use that to focus on privacy i.t. procurement, cyber security, and information sharing, and emerging technology. that is where we spend a good deal of time. host: why is will heard a republican? rep. hurd: i believe in freedom, government, having a strong national defense. i believe in equal opportunity. these are things that always resonated with me. my dad likes to say he was the first like republican in san antonio. i have not been able to fact check that. my dad was a salesman for 30 years. when he retired, he and my mother started a beauty supply school. and i saw what it meant to build
something from scratch and be rewarded for your efforts. these were the experiences i had growing up. host: brothers or sisters? rep. hurd: i am the baby of three. my sister is four years older my brother is five years older. we are really close. host: when you took the old of office, what was your mom and dad thinking? rep. hurd: my mom was crying and my dad was proud. my dad was 82 years old. he showed up to the capital. he usually walks with a cane. he did not have his cane. i said, do i need to get your cane? he straightens up real stiff and says, i am in the capital. i do not need a cane today. he walked without his cane for the entire day. i know they were super proud. my parents have always believed in me and have always been my
biggest supporters. it really hit home when i stood up and raise my hand and was able to see them in the gallery. host: what was your biggest setback growing up or early in your career? rep. hurd: i think the biggest setback was probably losing the run for congress in 2010. i left the cia to run. i was frustrated with the caliber of our elected leaders. my job was to collect intelligence and brief members of congress. i briefed hundreds of members and was shocked by their lack of understanding of basic issues they were on committees for. i try to run for congress and did not have a plan b. we ran. won the first round and everybody was excited. everybody thought we were she wins to win.
the other side was re: sending out resumes for further jobs. we lost by 700 votes. i felt like i let everyone down. i knew in my head that was not the case. but in my heart, i thought all these people who were never involved in the political process, i felt like i did not pull it out. i did not leave my house for a while. i had to figure out a plan b. i had coffee with about 75 people, all walks of life. and i asked them, if you are 32 what would you do? and their responses were there was no great idea generated from that, but the father of one of my closest friends, a guy i have known since i was 13 said do something meaningful and hard.
so simple, but that is kind of how i have lived my life. and i realize most of my life, i was trying to do things meaningful and heart. so i am a better person. host: why did you decide to run again? rep. hurd: the opportunity was there. coming that close, realizing that i had significant disagreements with the person in office and thought that person should be representing the district differently, i love my country. i had the honor to serve my country for almost a decade in the cia. i look at this as serving my country in a different way. the opportunity was there. the folks who were part of the team said they were in for one more. so we decided to do it. host: let's talk about the cia.
you graduate from texas, get a job at the agency. what was your first position? what was the biggest challenge? what did you learn from your tenure there? rep. hurd: my first job, i was 22, driving my toyota 4 runner. i stopped at a gas station. the uss cole had just blown up. by al qaeda. and i remember thinking, i wonder if i will know anything that is going on there. after we go through initial orientation, i was the desk officer for yemen. i was at the headquarters in langley supporting the men and women in our station, the headquarters in yemen. that was my first job. one of the biggest challenges was fighting bureaucracy. when i was in afghanistan i
managed undercover operations and felt there were rules and regulations that we were having to to do our jobs that were preventing us from protecting ourselves and doing the job we were trying to do. fighting bureaucracy in kabul back in langley, was an incredible challenge. in the end, we won. because i had the experience and background and support to get that done. it was a great experience. that is what i'm doing here. most of my responsibility as a representative is to fight bureaucracy for oaks who need your rocker c -- bureaucracy fou ght. it was a great lesson and challenge. what i learned in the cia is it is filled with red-blooded patriotic men and women who are
trying to do the right thing to make sure you and i can sleep well at night and our families are safe. that commitment to saying, we have a tasking. we never said, we cannot do that. the can-do attitude is something that permeated everything we did. it is something that i learned that texas. refined further in the cia. and something that i always use now. host: if a future president says they want you to be the cia director, is it a job he would undertake? how would you approach the position? rep. hurd: good question. it would be an honor to serve. and how i would approach the position is go back to the basics.
the cia are the collectors of last resort. if you cannot get a piece of information, you call on the cia to do that. and, you have to have very clear goals on what you are trying to collect and how you have a perspective. right now, as the number of threats to our country are increasing, we have to have more intelligence. one of the problems with the fight against isis in syria and iraq, we do not have enough on the ground human intelligence. part of that is because we do not have enough people in the region. that is something where my good friends, ambassador ryan crocker , i think he is one of the test things the foreign service has produced. now he is running the bush school. he says you need wingtips on the
ground to prevent boots on the ground. i would be aggressive, in hard places. we would have clear collection priorities. host: having spent time in yemen, afghanistan langley what worries you the most as a member of congress? what should americans be concerned about? rep. hurd: the micro actors having macro impact. this is where one person can have a huge impact. who would have thought 11 people would have had the impact it did on 9/11? those are what we have to worry about. if you look at isis right now isis is -- the talent they are attracting from around the world is significant. higher levels in afghanistan
than the original war in iraq ever were. their ability to leverage social media to get their message out is unprecedented. when i was in afghanistan and pakistan chasing taliban, they would do night letters. they would write a letter and leave it on doorsteps. you can only hit a couple hundred people in one night that way. what isis is doing is hitting tens of millions of people every day. they are getting their message out in a way that is unprecedented. their ability to grow is pretty scary. when you look at the cyber threats we are facing around the world, it is just unbelievable. it is no longer about preventing someone from getting in. did you give me enough time, i am getting into your digital network. the question becomes, how do you detect it? how can you kick people out?
the number of people able to get into our sophisticated digital infrastructure is increasing exponentially as well. the great thing is we have smart , hard-working americans at our intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies, military and civilian agencies, keeping us from these threats. host: i have to ask you about the ki -- knife. where did that come from? rep. hurd: pakistan. it was kind of the award for good service. it is an adaptation of a gurka knife. gurkas were fierce warriors. the saying goes, if you pulled your knife, you cannot pull it back in the sheath without drawing blood. this is a variant of that knife.
host: as all your career and work made it difficult to have a relationship? [laughter] rep. hurd: it has. i was engaged to a girl from north texas. when you come home and say guess what? i work for the cia and we are moving to pakistan, that has a chilling effect on the relationship. but it was the right choice for her. and i just have not found the right person just yet. i do travel a lot, move around a lot. i am young enough. my parents have grandkids. host: the members of congress you used to brief, do they view you differently as a colleague? rep. hurd: some of the ones i had -- caused me to run, no longer exist.
i will say that i have been shocked at how warm member to member relationships are. and the fact that people who have been here and have experience have sought me out for my perspective. host: what is the biggest learning curve for a freshman member of congress? rep. hurd: the biggest learning curve is how you manage your legislative team. your district team, and your political team. those are three separate organizations that have to be managed that way. for me, i realize a lot of my work up here is about responding to constituents. if one person is having a problem in the district, i guarantee you hundreds of people across the country are. how do you take those ones and twos and fix the problem on a
macro scale? that is how i think we can be more effective in representing our district and making sure we are fighting bureaucracy. host: finally our you where you expected to be at your age of 37? rep. hurd: i do not know. like i said before i have learned through doing things that are meaningful and hard. it is about having a positive mental attitude. being honest people. treating people with respect. i was taught that at a young age and continue to do that now. it is an exciting place to be in order to represent my country. people that need to be fought for. host: anything else that would interest you politically? rep. hurd: i am interested in running a business again.
for me, the next objective is getting reelected. there are a lot of folks that are doubting i'm ready to do that. they have doubted me plenty already. we know what we are doing. we will prove everyone wrong once again. host: congressman, thank you for your time. >> all this week, we have been bringing you conversations with new members of congress. tomorrow, an interview with norma torres, who represents the 35th district, which includes ontario and fontana. here is a preview. >> it is incredibly hard to get here. the money involved in politics makes it almost impossible for someone like me. i am an average mom from pomona. a 911 dispatcher by trade.
it is incredible i made it this far. >> why did you decide to seek office? representative torres: i answered a call for a 11-year-old girl who died at the hands of her uncle. it pushed me into a political world which i did not it no -- i did not know existed. >> you can watch the entire profile tomorrow. next, a former venture capitalist talks about an entrepreneurial program she created for people who are incarcerated. the event was held at the computer history knees in moun