Julian Castro to announce 2020 presidential campaign decision

Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee where she is able to influence US foreign policy

Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee where she is able to influence US foreign policy

Former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro joined the 2020 presidential race Saturday as the rush of Democrats making early moves to challenge President Donald Trump accelerates, while anticipation grows around bigger names still considering a White House run.

At a time when the federal government has been partly shut down as Trump demands funds to build a wall on the Mexican border, Castro sounded a contrasting message. "Yes, there are serious issues that need to be addressed in our broken immigration system, but seeking asylum is a legal right, and the cruel policies of this administration are doing real harm and damage".

"We have to have border security, but there's a smart and humane way to do is", he said.

"There is no way in hell that caging babies is a smart or a right or good way to do it".

"We say no to building a wall and say yes to building community", he said, to roars from the crowd.

Castro's personal story, along with that of his twin brother, Joaquin, has been central to his rise on the national stage and made up the bulk of his 2012 convention speech.

Castro also decried police violence toward African Americans, particularly compared with how authorities handled Dylann Roof, a white supremacist who murdered nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina three years ago.

"Today we're falling backwards instead of moving forward", he said.

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At 44, Castro will be one of the youngest candidates, a generation younger than potential competitors like Senators Bernie Sanders, 77, and Elizabeth Warren, 69, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden, 76. If he had a disappointment, he said, it was that is grandmother, who died when he was younger, could not be there to see him. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who narrowly lost a Senate bid past year, is also weighing a run and has been on the rise in very early polls.

He might not even be the frontrunner in his home state, which became immersed with Betomania in 2018 when Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke ran a solid campaign for U.S. Senator against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

Castro may not be the only Texan in the race, however.

But Castro, who has repeatedly dismissed talk that an O'Rourke candidacy would complicate his own chances, has framed the neighborhood and his upbringing as the story of an underdog.

National Democrats, looking to develop young Hispanic leaders and make inroads in that critical election demographic, began mentioning Castro as a budding star. He has always been viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party since he first landed on the national scene by delivering the keynote speech for President Barack Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Two years later, President Barack Obama picked him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. From 2014-2017 he served as the HUD secretary under Obama, and was a top pick to be Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016 before Tim Kaine was tapped.

In his hometown San Antonio on Saturday, Castro is launching his campaign for president, hoping to outrun a potential large and diverse field of Democratic Party contenders.

Castro launched an exploratory committee for a potential campaign on December 12, citing a platform built on opportunity, education, housing, health care, immigration and the environment.

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