Julian Castro offers a ’21st-century blueprint’ at Democratic summit

Julian Castro

Julian Castro is among three dozen or so Democrats considering running for president in 2020.

Maybe that’s why his 24-minute keynote address Saturday at the Florida Democratic Party’s statewide conference sounded like a stump speech, one ready-made for a national road trip.

The charismatic former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development secretary under Barack Obama spoke to hundreds of Democratic delegates gathered at Disney’s Coronado Springs. He mixed humor and passion, while talking about a background that could make him the leading Latino figure in the Democratic Party.

The 43-year-old native Texan began with light-hearted remarks comparing his home state to Florida, noting how both are controlled by Republican governors and legislatures that “need to get the heck out of the way and let Democrats come back and show Texas and Florida how to run a state.”

Castro then spent several minutes blasting President Donald Trump, calling him”quite a piece of work.”

“Just the other day he had spoken with the President of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Castro deadpanned to guffaws from the crowd. “Which was all good, except he’s the President of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

“He doesn’t know anything about policy,” he continued. “He doesn’t know anything about history. He doesn’t know how the government works, and he’s too busy golfing, or tweeting or insulting people to LEARN how to be a good president,” he said.

That sentence was typical of Castro’s vocal style, choosing a keyword or phrase to punch up and excite the audience.

“Whether he’s doing it on purpose or just totally incompetent, the fact is this administration has UTTERLY failed fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to get back on their feet,” he said to applaus).

Castro then segued into saying how he missed President Obama (a sure-fire crowd pleaser at a Democratic event), discussing how his life was transformed when Obama called in 2014 and asked him to succeed Shaun Donovan as HUD secretary.

And he talked about the pride his family felt when he and his twin brother (U.S. Represenative Joaquin Castro) were both accepted to Stanford University in 1992, only to face the immediate challenge of a formidable $28,000 annual tuition price tag. Castro noted he was able to pay for his education through a Perkins Loan and Pell Grants and other aid.

“I’m convinced that our country has been greatest when it expects hard work from individuals and from their families,” he said. “But then when it matches that hard work with MEANINGFUL opportunity in life, no matter the skin color or how much money someone makes or their resume or their religion or who they love, that has been the greatest success of our country.”

It ultimately led to his outline of a “21st-century blueprint.”

For Castro, that means investing in “brain power,” which is translated into more pay for teachers, universal Pre-K, investing in good universities and job training programs.

As for jobs that will continue to be lost due to automation, Castor said: “We don’t have a single person to WASTE in this country. We need everybody’s talent. We need to make sure that EVERYONE counts in our country, not just some people!”

Now teaching at the University of Texas, Castro will be making many more appearances for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. It could only help further build up a national following if Castro does choose a presidential run in 2020.


Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]


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