Government

Julian Castro gives vision for United States: Stronger, smarter, safer

Former HUD secretary says Midwest is opening for Democrats

Then-U. S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visits with Linn-Mar High School graduates Sruthi Palaniappan, center, and Allie Hoskins, after he spoke in July 2016 to Iowa delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
Then-U. S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visits with Linn-Mar High School graduates Sruthi Palaniappan, center, and Allie Hoskins, after he spoke in July 2016 to Iowa delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

Iowa and other Midwestern states on the front lines of a trade war are likely to be fertile grounds for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, predicts Julian Castro, a potential contender for the nomination himself.

“Iowa has front-row seat to the danger of this sort of scrambled, reactionary policy on trade,” Castro said in an interview Wednesday. “Democrats have a better vision for how we can grow our economy and make sure we have fair trade.”

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, Castro, 43, had planned to be in Iowa on Saturday to raise funds for Democrats. But he canceled visits to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids to join activists protesting the Trump administration policy on separating immigrant families that enter the United States illegally.

That “cruel policy,” he said, is “another example of why we need much greater accountability in Congress. The answer is to put Democrats in charge of at least the House.”

His visit — which Castro said he will reschedule — was to have been part of the run-up to a decision later this year whether to seek the 2020 presidential nomination.

The former San Antonio, Texas, mayor plans to spend from now through the Nov. 6 election traveling the country in support of Democratic candidates. He will use that time to “get a sense of where our country is at, what Americans are thinking.”

The United States must be the strongest, safest, smartest country in the 21st century, Castro said.

“Now more than ever, all of those three things go together,” he said. “If we make the right investments in brainpower, in infrastructure, in good jobs, it will make us stronger at home and around the world — and safer.”

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If the United States approaches allies “with a sense of how we can mutually benefit from success, it will make us economically stronger and safer,” he added.

As a result of the Trump administration taking the country backward — “Iowa is a good example of the challenges that farmers are facing” — and in terms of alliances abroad, Castro is convinced Iowa and other Midwest states will play a pivotal role in the 2020 presidential contest.

Democrats will have a strong shot to win Wisconsin and Michigan that in 2016 favored Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by very narrow margins, he said.

“Admittedly, Iowa and Ohio, there’s more work to do there,” Castro said. Iowa went for Trump by almost 10 points and Ohio by nearly 9.

“But Iowa and Ohio are feeling the impact of the decisions this administration has made and its empty promises,” he said. “They will be very competitive next time.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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