The former San Antonio mayor called out the “crisis of leadership” in the White House while firmly planting himself in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro officially announced a run for the White House on Saturday, becoming one of the first fully committed candidates in what is expected to become a crowded contest for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
“So many journeys for me and my family have started right here,” Castro told a crowd at Guadalupe Plaza on San Antonio’s west side, blocks from the home where he grew up and the church where he was baptized. “Today we begin another one.”
He then rattled off a list of campaign pledges that planted him squarely within the rising progressive side of the Democratic Party. He reaffirmed his rejection of corporate PAC money and support for “Medicare for all,” called for bail reform and promised that his first executive action would be to rejoin the Paris climate accord.
“There is a crisis today,” Castro said. “It’s a crisis of leadership. President Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation.”
Castro, 44, has long showed signs of high political ambitions, but was not known for staking out controversial positions until he launched his presidential exploratory committee last month. Since then, he has struck a markedly more left-wing tone, and his speech Saturday repeatedly hit upon progressive themes.
He attacked President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, highlighting the White House’s six-week experiment with systematically splitting parents from their children at the border.
“Yeah, we have to have border security,” Castro said. “But there’s a smart and a humane way to do it. And there is no way in hell that taking babies is a smart or humane way to do it.”
Castro also delved into the issue of race, casting prominent police killings of people of color as symptomatic of America’s wider problems with racial discrimination.<