Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, a top Obama administration official who is considering a presidential run, signed several autographs Saturday at an Asian and Latino Coalition of Iowa event.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, a top Obama administration official who is considering a presidential run, signed several autographs Saturday at an Asian and Latino Coalition of Iowa event.

August 21, 2018

DES MOINES

Former San Antonio Mayor and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro — who is considering a run for the White House in 2020 — offered a message of encouragement Saturday in Des Moines to Latinos distressed by rhetoric and policy on immigration.

“There are many people out there that know how hard-working, how good they are, and their families are, and how much the Latino community has helped build up the success of places like Iowa and the United States over the years,” Castro said in an interview with this newspaper. “My own family is a testament to that.”

Castro’s grandmother came from Mexico to the United States as an orphan. Today, Julián Castro is a potential presidential candidate, and his twin brother, Joaquin Castro, is a congressman from Texas.

Julián Castro, 43, a Democrat who served in President Barack Obama’s administration, spoke to the Asian and Latino Coalition of Iowa at an East Des Moines union hall last weekend.

Following the meeting with that 600-member organization, Castro told this newspaper that there are lanes for minority candidates for the White House in 2020 — and that the road back isn’t necessarily through a single-minded appeal to any one demographic of voters.

“We need to choose the person, male or female, no matter what their background is, who can summon the American identity, summon us to pursue a common American identity that can make us a nation that’s better than ever, no matter what the color of the person’s skin or their background, or what state they came from,” Castro said. “I have confidence that the voters of Iowa will help do that.”

Castro said he would make a decision after November about a potential bid.

“It’s very encouraging that Iowans are so engaged as we head into the 2018 elections,” Castro said. “People seem to be paying a tremendous amount of attention for a mid-term election. That’s good for Democrats.”

The Saturday gathering also served as a forum for Democratic candidate for Congress J.D. Scholten of Sioux City, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron.

Nathan Blake, a deputy Iowa attorney general who helped emcee the program, termed King a “vile bigot” in his public remarks.

Castro had strong words for the western Iowa Republican as well.

Somebody like Steve King just gives off the completely wrong impression about Iowans,” Castro said. “I believe, after having been to the state several times, that the vast majority of Iowans are good-hearted and they are interested in bringing people together. They are inclusive, and they appreciate people from different places. It’s just a shame that somebody like Steve King gets all the attention.”