Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro talks 2020 campaign, upcoming election


Graphic by Jacob Fulton

Julián Castro discussed U.S. politics in 2020 at NU College Democrats Fall Speaker event.

Emily Sakai, Assistant Campus Editor

Julián Castro talked about politics in 2020, his earlier run for president and the upcoming Nov. 3 election at a Monday event hosted by NU College Democrats.

When asked what surprised him this year, Castro said Americans’ support of President Donald Trump has continued to surprise him.

“I honestly do not know how somebody who, in my judgment has completely failed to fulfill the role of the president and has demeaned the office in so many ways… still has 43 or 44 percent of likely voters,” Castro said.

Castro served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Obama administration and was the youngest person in the Cabinet. He then ran for president earlier in the election cycle as a Democractic candidate before suspending his campaign in January.

Weinberg senior Adam Downing, NU College Democrats director of programming, was involved in organizing the event and said the group was “thrilled” to bring a “prominent figure” in the Democratic Party to speak with NU students.

“He is absolutely someone who has had his finger on the pulse of what is going on in this country,” Downing said. “Whatever he chose to talk about, we were sure the student body would benefit from it.”

Downing said he was particularly interested in hearing Castro’s opinion on Texas for the upcoming election and his expertise in housing.

During the event, major news outlets announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate. Castro, in response, said that it points to the “urgency to codify” Roe v. Wade and strengthen the Voting Rights Act. He said her selection shows the need to reform the court, considering Republicans have appointed 15 of the last 19 justices despite only winning the popular vote once in the last seven elections.

“This hypocrisy that we’ve seen, eight days before an election, appointing somebody when (Republicans) said they couldn’t do it in election year,” Castro said. “When we’re talking about an institution that is so important, that is fundamental to our functioning democracy as a Supreme Court, we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Castro, who was mayor of his home city San Antonio, Texas before joining Obama’s cabinet, also discussed the possibility of Texas “going blue” and supporting Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election. He said it “definitely” can turn blue this year, mentioning how in terms of polling numbers, the two candidates are neck and neck.

Demographic changes, including a growing Asian American population, Castro said, as well as suburban voters abandoning Trump are making the formerly red state “very, very competitive.”

SESP sophomore Elise Lamarre, who attended the event, said she was particularly struck by this response.

“When he was asked about Texas going blue, he seemed to think that was a large possibility,” Lamarre said. “Maybe I’m a bit more pessimistic about this election, but that surprised me.”

Texas offers the second most electoral votes of any state with 38, and has supported Republican presidential candidates for the last 10 presidential elections. In 2016, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton there by a 9-point margin, but is currently polling on average only around 1 to 3 points ahead of Biden there.

Castro also discussed the Latinx vote, and why Trump is doing surprisingly well with Latinx voters, saying polling errors could contribute, but also some people “buy the narrative” of the Trump campaign.

“His strongest suit is in marketing and the understanding of human psychology,” Castro said. “People maybe don’t give that enough credit.”

Castro was asked about his run for the Democratic nomination, a year-long run from January 2019 to January 2020. What many voters probably remember about his campaign, he said, were his immigration policies and not the rest of his platform. He said one thing he learned was that the “hot button issues” are what people judge candidates on.

Castro said Joe Biden’s nomination makes sense to him because in many ways, Biden is the opposite of Trump.

“I do believe that enough people feel like Trump has just failed, like he just doesn’t have it within him to competently, effectively direct the nation,” Castro said. “They see in Joe Biden, somebody who has the experience to get it done, knows what he’s doing.”

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