Texas congressional race showcases GOP fight over Trump, conspiracy theories and election lies
Apr 30, 2021 3 mins, 37 secs
Then there's Michael Wood, an outspoken anti-Trump Republican running with a message that puts him far outside the mainstream of his own party.

Adam Kinzinger who met with Wood here in Texas on Monday.

The special election will serve as a test case for how much traction an anti-Trump, anti-conspiracy theory message can get in a red district.

The Marine combat veteran describes himself as a conservative Republican who reluctantly voted for Trump in 2020, but became convinced he was unfit to lead the party after his lies about the election provoked the Capitol attack.

The anti-Trump candidate believes he will be vindicated, if not now then at some point in the future.

"I think the party is going to get to where I am eventually," Wood said.

"Anything's possible with such a crowded field, but I don't think there's much indication that a large chunk of Republican voters are clamoring for an avowedly anti-Trump option right now -- even in a district where Republican performance has dipped in the Trump era," Kyle Kondik, an election analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics told CNN.

Asked if he believes the 2020 election was stolen as Trump has falsely claimed, Rodimer said, "I think that we had some serious issues with this election and we've got to make sure that doesn't happen again."

"On January 6, people come to me all the time, they say, 'Big Dan Rodimer, what would you have done differently?' Well, you know what?

Reflecting on his outlier status in the race, Wood said that at one point he asked a friend, "Why am I being accused of being sort of a fringe candidate because I'm against insurrection?"

A fight for the soul of the GOP

In a possible indication that an anti-Trump message is not resonating with Republicans in the district, Wood has raised less than a number of GOP candidates and he has seen firsthand how much some voters disagree with what he has to say.

"I've had people who were actually there on January 6 come up to me shaking mad that I'm saying the sort of things that I'm saying about that day and also about President Trump."

Wood believes that Trump has taken advantage of the patriotism of Republican voters and manipulated them into believing conspiracy theories and lies, including that the election was illegitimate, to the point that many would be willing to support an attempted government overthrow.

She would "never support somebody who supports Trump," but if there's "a Republican who has a good message, who has a good platform, I will listen."

President Joe Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton among voters of color, including Black women in the 2020 election compared to 2016, though Black women voters still overwhelmingly voted for him.

That I just can't take -- that truth doesn't matter."

JP Woodruff, a a Rodimer supporter, told CNN he supports the pro-Trump candidate because he "represents truth and freedom, constitutional truth, and that's something we're lacking right now in the left-wing cabal state."

Asked what he meant by "left-wing cabal state," Woodruff said, "truth is no longer being represented in our Constitution and our politicians in Washington right now and that goes for both right and left."

Kinzinger, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after January 6, has endorsed Wood in the special election and hopes the race will ultimately send a message about the importance of truth.

"The most important thing is to show folks that there's nothing wrong with telling the truth, there's nothing wrong with being honest with the voters and no matter how it ends up, it's what needs to happen in the future," Kinzinger told CNN after a meeting with Wood here in Texas on Monday.

"It's important to show folks that there are people, even if it's kind of a David and Goliath fight, there are people that are going to back you and that want you to win if you do the hard thing," he said.

Kinzinger believes that voters who believe the election was stolen or that Antifa stormed the Capitol "are not unreachable," but he acknowledges there's a long road ahead in attempting to break through.

"Part of winning them back is you have to look at how long did it take them to basically get to believe that this was all fake," he said.

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