The Slatest

Obama’s Former Housing Chief Julián Castro is Running for President

Julián Castro, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary and San Antonio mayor, announces his candidacy for president in 2020, at Plaza Guadalupe on January 12, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas.
Julián Castro, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary and San Antonio mayor, announces his candidacy for president in 2020, at Plaza Guadalupe on January 12, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas.
Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images

Julián Castro, long seen as a rising star within the Democratic Party, officially launched his campaign for president Saturday by criticizing President Donald Trump for “a crisis of leadership.” Castro, a 44-year-old former mayor of San Antonio and U.S. housing secretary during President Barack Obama’s second term, is likely to be the youngest candidate from a major party as well as the only Latino who will seek to become commander in chief. Castro highlighted his Mexican-American heritage at his campaign launch in the city he once led on Saturday as he was introduced by his mother and most of the supporters who had gathered to hear him were Hispanic. His twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, who is the chairman of the Hispanic congressional caucus was present for the campaign launch.

“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I’m sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for President of the United States of America,” Castro said in a statement.

Castro’s first official stop as a presidential candidate will be in Puerto Rico, which will give him plenty of opportunity to criticize the current occupant of the White House. “I’m running for president because it’s time for new leadership. Because it’s time for new energy,” Castro said. “And it’s time for a new commitment to make sure that the opportunities I’ve had are available for every American.”

Even though Castro’s profile has long been seen as appealing to an increasingly diverse Democratic Party, he is still a longshot contender considering most people don’t actually know him. By holding his formal presidential announcement so early in the race he is at least assuring himself a bit of media coverage in what is expected to be a very crowded field of Democrats. And some are suggesting that Castro “is playing the long game,” as Politico puts it, launching a presidential campaign with the goal of ending up as the running mate.

Castro, whose grandmother was born in Mexico, has harshly criticized Trump’s policies at the border. “Yes, we must have border security, 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,” Castro said. Castro also rejected Trump’s characterization that there was any kind of “invasion” from Mexico. “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.”