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Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro Announces 2020 Democratic Presidential Bid


This weekend, another Democrat jumped into the 2020 presidential campaign. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro made his big announcement yesterday in San Antonio, Texas.


JULIAN CASTRO: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Castro is just one of a whole bunch of Democrats jumping in. Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard said on Friday she's also planning to run. And many others have been making the pilgrimage to Iowa. NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid is covering the 2020 campaign and joins us now. Good morning, Asma. Are you tired yet?

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.


KHALID: Not yet.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) That's good because there's a long road ahead. All right, what's Julian Castro's case for being president?

KHALID: Well, Lulu, he's been calling himself the antidote to Trump. And this is largely because he sees his personal story, a story of what immigrants have contributed positively to this country - and this just being an opposition to the way that Donald Trump has portrayed some immigrants. His grandma was born in Mexico and moved to Texas, and she worked as a maid and a cook. And then he and his brother, you know, went on to these Ivy League educations. So he feels like it's really important, given the attacks specifically on the Latino community, to be a part of that political conversation. So that's kind of the gist of it.

One thing I think that's worth remembering is that, you know, a few years ago, Castro was really seen as this rising political star. He gave the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. And there was a lot of excitement around him. But, you know, now, just given how many people are expected - how many high-profile candidates are expected this season - he's not really seen as necessarily a frontrunner in this race.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Last weekend, we saw Elizabeth Warren, who may be perceived as a frontrunner, out on her first big campaign swing. Who else are we watching out for?

KHALID: Yes, Warren has been out campaigning, as you said. She's actually - she was out in New Hampshire this weekend. But she is not the only one. California Senator Kamala Harris has been out on book tour. She's - has not officially announced, but she's been getting a lot of attention about, you know, what she's been speaking about on this book tour and how she would potentially take on Donald Trump. I want to play a clip for you from what she had to say on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday.


KAMALA HARRIS: Candidly, my focus would be, if I were going to run - would not be Donald Trump. It would be the voters and the people of our country. They deserve, I believe, to hear from anyone who wants to be a leader - they deserve to hear from any one of us who puts ourselves out there how we are going to be relevant to their lives.

KHALID: And, Lulu, she's not the only one talking about, you know, how they would potentially run for president. We know that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are both expected to be in South Carolina at an NAACP event on MLK Day. And then Joe Biden, the former vice president, who's been talked a lot about as a potential candidate...


KHALID: ...He will be honored at an MLK event by Al Sharpton in Washington, D.C. But we've been waiting for all of these people to officially make up their minds.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Another big Democratic name is Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas congressman who came close to defeating Senator Ted Cruz in last year's midterms. Does O'Rourke want to run?

KHALID: I think we are a little unclear about that, but he's been getting a lot of attention. He was on Instagram last week with a snapshot of himself in the chair at the dentist's office. A lot of people saw that as a somewhat unconventional way to...


KHALID: ...Campaign. But he is also going to be doing an event with Oprah in Times Square next month. And a lot of people are saying, look. You know, maybe he's trying to reach audiences in a different way.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just briefly, a major part of the conversation among Democrats is gender. Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to be a major party nominee. And her loss in the general election was searing for Democrats. How's that coloring the view of 2020?

KHALID: Well, I've been hearing about that, Lulu, just out in Iowa when I was there. A lot of Democrats are concerned about whether a woman can defeat Donald Trump. And I think what makes this election cycle unique is how many women candidates are expected to be in this top tier with really serious resumes. We've got people like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand that are all expected to be very viable candidates.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: An interesting time. All right. That's NPR's Asma Khalid. Thank you so much.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.