Julian Castro, Barack Obama’s housing chief, launches 2020 US presidential bid – Donald Trump’s America
Assailing US President Donald Trump for “a crisis of leadership,” former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro has joined the 2020 presidential race as the rush of Democrats making early moves to challenge the incumbent accelerates.
- Mr Castro was San Antonio’s mayor for five years and US housing secretary in former President Barack Obama’s second term
- He says Mr Trump’s leadership is in a crisis and plans to secure the border in a “smart and humane way”
- Mr Castro could end up being the only Latino in crowded the Democratic field
Mr Castro, who could end up being the only Latino in what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic field, made immigration a centrepiece of his announcement in his hometown of San Antonio, 320 kilometres from the US-Mexico border.
Two days after the President visited the border to promote his promised wall, Mr Castro mocked Mr Trump for claiming that the US faces an “invasion” from its ally to the south. “He called it a national security crisis,” Mr Castro said.
“Well, there is a crisis today. It’s a crisis of leadership. Donald Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation.”
Mr Castro, the 44-year-old grandson of a Mexican immigrant, said he was running for president “because it’s time for new leadership, because it’s time for new energy and it’s time for a new commitment to make sure that the opportunities that I’ve had are available to every American”.
He made the announcement as a government shutdown dragged into the longest in US history, and as the field of 2020 contenders widens and anticipation grows around bigger names still considering runs.
Mr Castro was San Antonio’s mayor for five years and US housing secretary in Barack Obama’s second term. He became the second Democrat to formally enter race, after former Maryland Representative John Delaney.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has also started an exploratory committee for president, and four other Democratic senators are taking steady steps toward running.
Mr Castro is getting an early start in trying to stand out.
His first trip as a candidate will be to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, where an outcry has begun as the White House considers diverting disaster funding to pay for the border wall.
The impasse over paying for a border wall that Mr Trump made a central part of his 2016 campaign has led to the partial federal closure.
That stalemate, along with Mr Trump’s hard-line immigration stands, drew sharp rebukes from Mr Castro.
“There are serious issues that need to be addressed in our broken immigration system, but seeking asylum is a legal right. And the cruel policies of this administration are doing real and lasting harm,” he said.
He argued for securing the border in a “smart and humane way”.
“There is no way in hell that caging babies is a smart or a right or good way to do it. We say no to building a wall and say yes to building community. We say no to scapegoating immigrants,” he said.
Julian Castro announces his presidential campaign with his family in San Antonio where he is the former mayor. (AP: Eric Gay)
Joining Mr Castro at the campaign kick off was his twin brother, Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Hispanic congressional caucus and a frequent critic of Mr Trump.
Mr Castro had said leading up to his announcement that a Latino candidate was a must in the 2020 field.
He was raised by a local Latina activist, and after a brief career in law, was elected mayor of the nation’s seventh-largest city at 34.
It was not long before Democrats nationally embraced him as a star in the making, particularly one from Texas, where a booming Hispanic population is rapidly changing the state’s demographics and improving the party’s fortunes.
Mr Castro delivered the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Two years later, Mr Obama picked him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He was on the short list of Hillary Clinton’s potential running mates in 2016.
Like other Democrats running, Mr Castro has said he will not accept money from political action committees tied to corporations and unions, and he has sought to introduce himself to voters as a champion for universal health care and affordable housing.