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The Latino Briefing: An Interview With Julian Castro And the 2020 Presidential Race

Julian Castro

Editor’s Note: The Latino Briefing is a new newsletter which reports on the national Latino political story.  Adrian Crrasquillo, a veteran Latno journalist offers insights and behind the scenes maneuvering.

The Julian Castro 2020 Interview: The former mayor of San Antonio and HUD secretary hasn’t made an official announcement but he told NBC News he’s interested in running for president in 2020 but first wants to spend time listening to people on the ground. So I called him up to chat about it. He also read “the nice things” Symone Sanders said about him in last week’s Latino Briefing. Shoutout to LB already connecting candidates and operatives:

LB: What went into your decision to announce interest in 2020 so early rather than be coy like many of the other expected candidates?

CASTRO: There’s tremendous energy out there and a lot of folks are paying attention to politics that haven’t paid attention before. Trump’s election was a wake up call for a lot of folks of different backgrounds. So I’m supporting young Democrats, getting more people involved in the process, and getting young candidates involved. I want to talk to party organizations and people that are doing good work and during the course of that I’ll get a sense of my own future, how the 2020 race is shaping up, and what the electorate is thinking.

LB: What do you already know the electorate is thinking one year into Trump’s presidency?

CASTRO: Two things. Number one there’s a tremendous amount of anxiety out there. What people see as erratic behavior in Washington and especially in the White House. It’s making people wonder what’s next in a bad way. They want more accountability of this administration from Congress. It’s why I’m convinced Democrats are going to have a big year and why I wouldn’t be surprised if they pick up seats and take control of Congress. But there has to be a positive vision for the future — it’s not enough to be against Trump, there has to be an alternative, positive vision for the future.

LB: Democratic voters are angry. You ratcheted up your language, calling Trump a “pendejo” for pardoning Arpaio. Is part of the reason you do that to tap into that anger from voters?

CASTRO: No question, there are a lot of angry folks. They’re angry at this White House, Congressional Republicans incompetence, bad ethics that this administration has shown. There’s no doubt that candidates running in 2018 and 2020 ought to reflect some of that. But it should be channeled in a productive way as well. They should recognize it and speak to it, but not be consumed by it. I don’t think folks are looking for the Democratic version of Donald trump.

LB: If you were giving advice to Democrats in 2018 on how to reach Latino voters more successfully, what would you say?

CASTRO: We need to spend the resources to go reach them. Hire a diverse group of folks to bring them into the fold, persuade Latinos to participate and message to them. We have to stop relying on the same old methods, with the same restricted lists of consistent voters. Be willing to go to everybody’s door, all the time, not six months before the election. And not be afraid to go to the faith community and speak to them.

LB: On DACA protections for Dreamers, it seems like the issue that will not go away, not be resolved. How do you think Congress and this White House should deal with it?

CASTRO: We have to be very clear that this is fundamentally not about policy. This is a moral test for the president and Congress. Dreamers are here through no fault of their own, more than 95% are in school or working, they’re productive residents. When people look at this issue it is a test for our government. My hope is that at the end of the day, Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConell will allow a vote on the clean Dream Act. Congress can come to a reasonable compromise but don’t hold Dreamers hostage to get the most draconian version of immigration done. It’s a moral abomination for the Republican Party to hold Dreamers hostage indefinitely. 

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