Julián Castro, a former Texas mayor and cabinet member in the Obama administration, became the first Democratic candidate to campaign for the 2020 race in Utah when he stopped in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Castro, who was the youngest person to serve as the mayor of San Antonio, laid out his vision for the presidency saying he wants to see the U.S. be “the smartest, healthiest, the fairest and most prosperous nation on Earth.”
On a nationwide tour after announcing his candidacy last month, Castro is the only Latino in an already crowded Democratic field of 10 candidates vying for the nation’s highest office that include Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
He started his Utah visit by giving a keynote speech to Latino youth at the annual MEChA High Conference at the University of Utah.
He told them about his family’s immigrant roots, his mother’s activism work and how he and his brother, Joaquín, worked hard to become elected officials in Texas.
“I feel like I’ve been able to live out my dream and I want to make sure that in the years to come, that no matter who you are or where you have lived, what your background is, that you can live your dream too,” Castro said.
To realize that dream, Castro said he wants to change the country’s health care and immigration systems, raise the minimum wage, increase education opportunities and rejoin the Paris climate agreement.
The students in the audience cheered loudly when Castro said the U.S. needs to invest in universal pre-K, improve public schools, pay teachers a fair wage, reduce classroom sizes and make higher education tuition-free.
“All across the world but especially in countries like India and China, they are producing all these young people … that are going to drive progress in the years to come and that means for our United States, that we don’t have a single person to waste,” Castro said.
Many of the goals Castro outlined in his platform are issues that Democrats and Republicans in Congress have clashed over. Recently, there’s been a debate over whether filibusters should be eliminated to end some gridlock.
Castro said he is hopeful that Democrats will take control of the presidency, the House and Senate in 2021 and work effectively, but he said he would leave ending the filibuster on the table.
“It’s clear that we need a Congress that is productive, that can pass legislation to improve our healthcare system, improve our economy (and) improve our immigration system,” he said.
The House voted this week to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. Castro’s brother and Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro, was part of those who vote to block Trump’s effort.
“Trump’s declaration of national emergency is a bad precedent,” Julián Castro said. “It’s an abuse of presidential power and my hope is that it will go nowhere.”