- Sanford Nowlin
- Julián Castro fires up the crowd at Plaza Guadalupe during a speech confirming he'll run for president.
Castro, who also served as HUD secretary for the Obama White House, is the first Hispanic entering what's expected to be a crowded field looking to hold President Trump to a single term.
“I am running for president because it’s time for new leadership, because it’s time for new energy," Castro told the audience, who patiently waited through numerous speakers and a thumping, pep-rally mix of music. "It’s time for a new commitment to make sure the opportunities that I had are available to every American."
The bleachers behind Castro's podium were stacked with local politicos, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg, but also included uniformed veterans and what looked to be a meticulously curated rainbow of supporters.
Democrats are divided over whether the best shot at defeating Trump is likely to come from the middle or the left. During Saturday's rally, Castro made it clear he's aiming from the latter.
During his speech, he checked numerous liberal policy boxes, from Medicare for all and comprehensive immigration reform to universal background checks and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Notably absent was any mention of foreign policy.
The audience's biggest cheers, however, were reserved for Castro's criticism of Trump's draconian immigration policies, including family separations and detention of asylum seekers.
"There is a crisis today. It's a crisis of leadership," Castro said, earning a roar from the crowd. "Donald Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation."
A victory would make Castro, 44, the first Hispanic president and one of the youngest people to ever hold the office.
The San Antonian became a rising Democratic star after a keynote speech at the party's 2012 convention. He was also considered a frontrunner to be Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate.
Even so, recent polls shows Castro lagging better-known figures like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who's formed an exploratory committee for a presidential run, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who's also weighing a candidacy.
Castro also could be upstaged by fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke, whose longshot Senate campaign against Ted Cruz transformed him into a political rockstar. O'Rourke's said to be considering a 2020 run but has yet to confirm.
Given the numbers, Castro's wise to jump into the fray early so he can build name recognition, said David Crockett, a scholar of presidential politics at Trinity University. Not to mention, the added experience could prove handy if Castro, unable to gain traction this election cycle, opts to run again.
"He's relatively young," Crockett said. "He's still got several election cycles he could run for."
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