NORTH LIBERTY — Five days ahead of his planned announcement of his 2020 intentions, Julian Castro stopped at a North Liberty house party to introduce himself and his vision for America as the smartest, fairest, healthiest and most prosperous nation in the world.
“This nation has been at its greatest when it recognizes and rewards hard work,” the former Obama administration official told about 50 people Monday night. Unfortunately, “for the first time in a long time were are going backward (because) the White House is so determined to divide … to pick and choose who gets ahead.”
Castro, 44, who formed an exploratory committee in December, is expected to announce Saturday he’s entering the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Castro’s name has been mentioned in the past as potential presidential candidate and was among those Hillary Clinton considered as a running mate in 2016.
“Starting Saturday, I’m going to start talking about my vision of the future,” he told members of the Johnson County Potluck Insurgency, a Hillary Clinton-leaning get-out-the-vote group in 2016.
The turnout shows “Iowans are ready for a change,” said Jane Cranston, who with her husband, Ed, hosted the house party.
That doesn’t mean they were there to endorse Castro, said Ed Cranston, treasurer of the Johnson County Democrats.
“Not at all,” Cranston said, explaining that for them, it was an opportunity to meet the candidate. “We want to find out what he’s about … what are his issues and if he’s on the same page as we are.”
“People are excited for a change of direction,” he said.
Many of them, however, haven’t picked a candidate to lead that change.
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“Still hunting,” said Peter Hanson of Iowa City, a Johnson County Democratic Party Central Committee member. Although some candidates might have greater name recognition and higher profiles, “everyone is at the starting gate” in the race for the 2020 nomination, he said.
Castro acknowledged that Iowans, who host the first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses, will have the opportunity to hear many potential rivals.
“You’ve heard from a lot of people and you’re going to hear from a lot more in months and year to come,” Castro said, “but I hope you’ll remember that what we really need to prosper is a vision, a direction and also somebody who has shown they can get things done.” He did that as mayor of San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city, and as Housing and Urban Development secretary, Castro said.
“I have the experience it takes to actually get things done,” he said.
In laying out his vision, Castro called for Medicare for all, universal pre-K, a minimum-wage increase and “a tax system that rewards work,” not just corporations and “people already doing well.”
Although he served in Washington, Castro said he’s not from Washington.
“I believe that we need to change the culture of Washington to one that works for people out there trying to make a living,” he said. He promised to take no PAC money and challenge other candidates to “work for the people, not the special interests.”
For more about Castro, visit his website at julianforthefuture.com.
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