Julian Castro joins 2020 campaign
SAN ANTONIO — Assailing President Donald Trump for “a crisis of leadership,” former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro joined the 2020 presidential race Saturday as the rush of Democrats making early moves to challenge the incumbent accelerates.
Castro, who could end up being the only Latino in what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic field, made immigration a centerpiece of his announcement in his hometown of San Antonio, less than 200 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Two days after the president visited the border to promote his promised wall, Castro mocked Trump for claiming that the U.S. faces an “invasion” from its ally to the south. “He called it a national security crisis,” 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.”
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 during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, and as the field of 2020 contenders widens and anticipation grows around bigger names still considering runs.
Castro was San Antonio’s mayor for five years and U.S. housing secretary in President Barack Obama’s second term. He became the second Democrat to formally enter race, after former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has also started an exploratory committee for president, and four other Democratic senators are taking steady steps toward running. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to Congress, said this week she is planning a bid, too.
For his part, Trump said he isn’t worried about the burgeoning field of Democratic opponents. He has already announced that he’s running for re-election.
“I love what I see,” Trump said Saturday night when asked about the competition during a telephone interview with Fox News Channel. He recited a list of what he views as his accomplishments, including low unemployment, tax cuts and trade deals.
“I don’t know. How does somebody beat that?” the president said.
Asked to identify the one Democrat he’d like to run against, Trump named former Vice President Joe Biden, a two-time presidential candidate who has yet to announce his intentions for 2020.
Castro is getting an early start in trying to stand out. His first trip as a candidate comes Monday, to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, where an outcry has begun as the White House considers diverting disaster funding to pay for the wall.
The impasse over paying for a border wall that Trump made a central part of his 2016 campaign has led to the partial federal closure. That stalemate, along with Trump’s hardline immigration stands, drew sharp rebukes from Castro.
FORMER SAN ANTONIO MAYOR and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (front left) waves as he arrives with his family to an event where he announced his decision to seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination Saturday in San Antonio.