Cas­tro makes prom­ises in bid kick­off

He’d recom­mit to Paris cli­mate ac­cord, push for Medi­care for all

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - By ROBERT T. GARRETT and GROMER JEFFERS JR. Staff Writ­ers

SAN AN­TO­NIO — Julián Cas­tro, court­ing pro­gres­sives in hopes he can over­take a large field of Democrats, an­nounced Satur­day morn­ing in his home­town that he’s run­ning for pres­i­dent.

Cas­tro promised that if elected he would push for Medi­care for all, uni­ver­sal prekinder­garten in­struc­tion, changes to the cash­bail sys­tem and an end to po­lice vi­o­lence against African­Ameri­ cans.

Call­ing cli­mate change a mor­tal threat to hu­man­ity, Cas­tro said his first pres­i­den­tial ac­tion would be to is­sue an ex­ec­u­tive or­der recom­mit­ting the U.S. to the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, a multi­na­tional ef­fort to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

“We’re go­ing to say no to sub­si­diz­ing big oil and say yes to pass­ing a Green New Deal,” he said, re­fer­ring to an eco­nomic stim­u­lus pro­gram that’s mod­eled on for­mer Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt’s New Deal. It would tackle en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and in­come in­equal­ity.

“We can fight cli­mate change and cre­ate great jobs here in Amer­ica,” Cas­tro told more than 1,000 sup­port­ers in his old West Side neigh­bor­hood.

Cas­tro, a for­mer San An­to­nio mayor and Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion Cab­i­net mem­ber, saved per­haps his fiercest rhetoric for a re­buke of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

“Yes, we must have bor­der se­cu­rity,” he said. “But there is a smart and hu­mane way to do it. And there is no way in hell that caging chil­dren is keep­ing us safe. We say no to build­ing a wall and say yes to build­ing com­mu­nity.”

With­out men­tion­ing the shut­down of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, now the long­est ever, Cas­tro de­nounced Trump’s mo­ti­va­tion for it. He scoffed at Trump’s visit to McAllen last week, an ef­fort to show that a big­ger, longer bar­rier is needed on the U.S.­Mex­ico bor­der to avert what the GOP pres­i­dent calls a hu­man­i­tar­ian and na­tional se­cu­rity cri­sis.

‘Cri­sis of lead­er­ship’

“Well, there is a cri­sis to­day — it’s a cri­sis of lead­er­ship,” Cas­tro said. “Don­ald Trump has failed to up­hold the val­ues of our great na­tion.”

Cas­tro also pledged to up­hold abor­tion rights, fight dis­crim­i­na­tion against gays, raise the min­i­mum wage and “pro­tect the right of work­ers to or­ga­nize in an econ­omy that is quickly chang­ing and leav­ing too many fam­i­lies be­hind.”

As have some of the Demo­cratic Party’s most lib­eral pres­i­den­tial con­tenders, such as Mas­sachusetts Sen. El­iz­abeth War­ren, Cas­tro has en­dorsed free com­mu­nity col­lege — though he didn’t ex­pressly say that Satur­day.

“We’ll work to make the first two years of col­lege, a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram or an ap­pren­tice­ship ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able,” he said, so more young adults can “get a good job with­out drown­ing in debt.”

Cas­tro, for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sec­re­tary of hous­ing and ur­ban de­vel­op­ment dur­ing Obama’s sec­ond term, spoke of soar­ing hous­ing costs as a cri­sis.

“Fam­i­lies are dou­bling up, sleep­ing on the couches of rel­a­tives or even on the streets,” he said. “We will in­vest in hous­ing that’s af­ford­able to the mid­dle class and to the poor.”

If suc­cess­ful, Cas­tro, 44, would be the first His­panic and one of the youngest pres­i­dents ever elected.

Cas­tro ap­peared at Plaza Guadalupe after be­ing in­tro­duced by his mother, Rosie Cas­tro, a ’70s leader of La Raza Unida, the rad­i­cal Texas move­ment that pushed a strong “Chi­cano” iden­tity and pro­moted civil rights for Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans. Rosie Cas­tro called her son “a son of San An­to­nio,” “a son of Texas” and “a son of the United States.”

“I’m run­ning for pres­i­dent be­cause it’s time for new lead­er­ship. It’s time for new en­ergy,” he said, in English and Span­ish, adding that he wants the U.S. to be the most pros­per­ous, smartest and health­i­est na­tion on earth.

Ear­lier in his speech, he ad­dressed his up­bring­ing on San An­to­nio’s West Side.

“Look around, there are no front­run­ners born here, but I’ve al­ways be­lieved that with big dreams and hard work, any­thing is pos­si­ble,” he said.

Cas­tro’s twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Cas­tro, will serve as the cam­paign chair­man. Maya Ru­pert will be cam­paign man­ager.

Nearly a decade ago, Julián Cas­tro was con­sid­ered a bud­ding star. He gave the keynote ad­dress at Obama’s sec­ond nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion. He was men­tioned as a po­ten­tial run­ning mate for Hillary Clin­ton in 2016.

But his un­will­ing­ness to fol­low up his ser­vice as HUD sec­re­tary with a bid for statewide of­fice in Texas, such as gover­nor or U.S. se­na­tor, has brought him crit­i­cism for be­ing too cau­tious.

O’Rourke fac­tor

While the 2020 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial field is likely to be crowded, Cas­tro’s big­gest hur­dle may be at home in Texas, where there are signs that for­mer U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, now the most pop­u­lar Demo­crat in Texas, is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Texas Repub­li­can Chair­man James Dickey of Austin, who held a con­fer­ence call with re­porters to de­nounce Cas­tro as a left­ist and a failed mayor, said he agrees Cas­tro felt a need to jump into the race now be­cause he’s been eclipsed by O’Rourke in Texas.

“He’s got to be in­cred­i­bly miffed at how quickly and how eas­ily the void of his ab­sence was filled in,” Dickey said.

As O’Rourke did in his failed Se­nate run against Ted Cruz, Cas­tro has said he won’t take money from po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees.

“So you know that this is al­ways — and only — about you, I won’t be ac­cept­ing a dime of PAC money in this cam­paign. And as pres­i­dent, we will work to over­turn Cit­i­zens United, to get big money out of pol­i­tics,” he said, re­fer­ring to a 2010 Supreme Court de­ci­sion that the First Amend­ment pro­tects cor­po­ra­tions’ and unions’ rights to spend money to per­suade vot­ers in elec­tions.

Joaquin Cas­tro, asked if Julián Cas­tro is sweat­ing an O’Rourke can­di­dacy, in­sisted his brother is fo­cus­ing on his own race and not whether the for­mer El Paso con­gress­man would be a ri­val for the nom­i­na­tion.

“He’s just go­ing to go and do the hard work of fo­cus­ing on his vi­sion and get­ting the mes­sage out to peo­ple,” Joaquin Cas­tro said. “We un­der­stand it’s a com­pe­ti­tion and a race, but you re­ally can’t fo­cus on what other folks are do­ing.”

When asked where Texas donors wait­ing for the en­tire field to take shape should place their money, he said: “I would ask them to fol­low their heart and their mind.”

Julián Cas­tro said after the rally that its size and com­po­si­tion en­cour­aged him. Peo­ple in New York and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., are un­der­es­ti­mat­ing his sup­port, he told The Dal­las Morn­ing News.

Many at­ten­dees were “work­ing class,” he said. Cas­tro rode pub­lic tran­sit — Bus No. 68 — to the event. The crowd in­ter­rupted him re­peat­edly with chants of “Julián! Julián!”

‘Big­ger than lies’

Bardo Perez walked around in the crowd car­ry­ing a framed photo of his fa­ther, Es­tanis­lao Perez, stand­ing with famed or­ga­nizer Ce­sar Chavez.

The younger Perez said Cas­tro’s can­di­dacy links the past with the present, par­tic­u­larly since Rosie Cas­tro was a Chi­cana ac­tivist.

“Julián has strong val­ues and he will make us proud,” Perez said.

Abby Train, an eco­nomics pro­fes­sor at Texas State Univer­sity, said Cas­tro was a good mayor and would bring his un­der­stand­ing of eco­nomic pol­icy to the White House. Cas­tro is a marked con­trast to Trump, Train said.

“He’s a de­cent hu­man be­ing, and that’s what we need more than any­thing else,” she said.

Cas­tro called for unity among Amer­i­cans.

“We will show that hope can be big­ger than fear, that light can be big­ger than dark­ness, and that truth can be big­ger than lies,” he said.

He an­nounced plans to travel to Puerto Rico on Sun­day and Mon­day and to New Hamp­shire on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day for cam­paign events. He’ll meet pri­vately with Demo­cratic state law­mak­ers in Austin on Tues­day morn­ing.

“I’m run­ning for pres­i­dent be­cause it’s time for new lead­er­ship. It’s time for new en­ergy.”

Julián Cas­tro

JULIÁN CAS­TRO cites “a cri­sis of lead­er­ship.”

Suzanne Cordeiro/Agence France­Presse

Julián Cas­tro, 44, the for­mer HUD sec­re­tary and San An­to­nio mayor, would be the first His­panic and one of the youngest pres­i­dents ever elected. He an­nounced his plans to about 1,000 sup­port­ers, say­ing that he wants the U.S. to be the most pros­per­ous, smartest and health­i­est na­tion on earth.

Eric Gay/The As­so­ci­ated Press

A young boy peeks un­der a ban­ner as he watches Cas­tro an­nounce his in­ten­tions to seek the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent. Cas­tro’s twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Cas­tro, will serve as cam­paign chair­man, and Maya Ru­pert will be cam­paign man­ager.

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