Will Hurd. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Republican Rep. Will Hurd has been removed from a keynote slot at this year's Black Hat cybersecurity conference, one day after being announced, after critics slammed the cyber-focused lawmaker's GOP-line record on women's issues including STEM funding and abortion.

What they're saying: "We misjudged the separation of technology and politics," wrote the conference in a emailed statement.

Background: Black Hat is one of the major conferences in cybersecurity. It does not appear a speaker has ever been removed under these circumstances at a similar conference in the field.

  • Hurd did, however, speak at Black Hat's sister conference, DEF CON, in the same city in the same week.

What they're saying: "Representative Hurd was honored to be invited and hopes that the Black Hat Conference is a success," said Katie Thompson, Hurd's communications director, via email.

  • "Congressman Hurd has always sought to engage groups of people that don't necessarily agree with all of his votes or opinions. That's why Rep. Hurd is one of the loudest voices for bipartisanship in Congress."
  • She continued: "This Congress alone he voted for equal pay for equal work, for the Violence Against Women Act and the Equality Act."

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Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

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