Government

Presidential candidate Julian Castro in Hiawatha concedes he's not the front-runner - yet

Ben Roberts/Freelance

Julian Castro, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020, meets with supporters Sunday afternoon at an event hosted by Linn County Democrats at Karma Coffee Cafe in Hiawatha. Castro served as the U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama.
Ben Roberts/Freelance Julian Castro, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020, meets with supporters Sunday afternoon at an event hosted by Linn County Democrats at Karma Coffee Cafe in Hiawatha. Castro served as the U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama.

HIAWATHA — Iowa’s 40-degree weather still was “a little cold for my blood,” Julian Castro joked with about 90 people who came to see him Sunday.

Like the weather, he hopes Iowans are warming up to him, the former mayor of San Antonio said.

“I know that this is like people shopping at the beginning of a college semester,” he told his standing-room-only audience at Karma Coffee Café. “For all you all that are still thinking about it, thank you. ... I’m going to work hard, and I believe we can do great here in Iowa when the time comes.”

At the moment, Castro is among the 1 percenters in the most recent poll from Emerson College along with John Hickenlooper, Tulsi Gabbard and Jay Inslee. They are behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

Castro, the son of a first-generation American, acknowledged that he’s not the front-runner, “but I wasn’t born a front-runner.”

“I bet there are a lot of folks in this room who didn’t grow up a front-runner,” he said. “A lot of people in America and in Iowa who don’t feel like a front-runner.

“I’m going to work hard,” Castro continued. “I’m confident that as I deliver a message of making sure that no matter where somebody is in life, they can prosper and reach their dreams in this country, too, by the time Feb. 3 comes around and you all go to caucus, that I can be the front-runner with your help.”

His vision is for America as the smartest, healthiest, fairest and most prosperous country in the world. Castro, 44, laid out a vision of universal preschool and tuition-free postsecondary education, strengthening Medicare and expanding it for anyone who wants to participate in the federal health care program, raising the minimum wage, writing a tax code that “expects more from the very wealthy and corporations, and continuing criminal justice reforms, including bail reform.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

His biggest applause came when Castro pledged to recommit to the Paris climate accord and follow that with legislation that invests in sustainability.

Responding to questions, Castro said flood recovery programs should be focused on the consumer, on families. He wants to build alliances with nations to confront China’s trade policies rather than take a go-it-alone approach. A 21st-century Marshall Plan for Latin American would help alleviate the need for families from that region to flee their home countries.

Castro also wants to see the Equal Rights Amendment passed and said the litmus test for his Supreme Court nominees would be that they “share my progressive values … to support, protect Roe v. Wade.”

Although he had participated in the Heartland Forum on rural issues Saturday, Castro said he doesn’t have all the answers to the issues facing farmers and rural America.

“I’m a city boy,” Castro said, but added that he’s learning and listening to gain a better understanding of those issues.

“If I didn’t believe I could lead, I wouldn’t be stepping up and running for president,” Castro said. “I also have a lot to learn, and I’m willing to do that.”

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.