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Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro joins 2020 campaign

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Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro joins 2020 campaign

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Assailing President Donald Trump for “a crisis of leadership,” former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro joined the 2020 presidential race Saturday as the rush of Democrats making early moves to challenge the incumbent accelerates.

Castro, who could end up being the only Latino in what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic field, made immigration a centerpiece of his announcement in his hometown of San Antonio, less than 200 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Two days after the president visited the border to promote his promised wall, Castro mocked Trump for claiming that the U.S. faces an “invasion” from its ally to the south. “He called it a national security crisis,” Castro said. “Well, there is a crisis today. It’s a crisis of leadership. Donald Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation.”

Castro, the 44-year-old grandson of a Mexican immigrant, said he was running for president “because it’s time for new leadership, because it’s time for new energy and it’s time for a new commitment to make sure that the opportunities that I’ve had are available to every American.”

He made the announcement during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, and as the field of 2020 contenders widens and anticipation grows around bigger names still considering runs.

Castro was San Antonio’s mayor for five years and U.S. housing secretary in President Barack Obama’s second term. He became the second Democrat to formally enter race, after former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has also started an exploratory committee for president, and four other Democratic senators are taking steady steps toward running. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to Congress, said this week she is planning a bid, too.

For his part, Trump said he isn’t worried about the burgeoning field of Democratic opponents. He has already announced that he’s running for re-election.

“I love what I see,” Trump said Saturday night when asked about the competition during a telephone interview with Fox News Channel. He recited a list of what he views as his accomplishments, including low unemployment, tax cuts and trade deals.

“I don’t know. How does somebody beat that?” the president said.

Asked to identify the one Democrat he’d like to run against, Trump named former Vice President Joe Biden, a two-time presidential candidate who has yet to announce his intentions for 2020.

Castro is getting an early start in trying to stand out. His first trip as a candidate comes Monday, to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, where an outcry has begun as the White House considers diverting disaster funding to pay for the wall.

The impasse over paying for a border wall that Trump made a central part of his 2016 campaign has led to the partial federal closure. That stalemate, along with Trump’s hard-line immigration stands, drew sharp rebukes from Castro.

“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 and lasting harm,” he said.

He argued for securing the border in a “smart and humane way.”

“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. We say no to scapegoating immigrants,” he said.

Joining Castro at the campaign kickoff was his twin brother, Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Hispanic congressional caucus and a frequent Trump critic. The Spanish-style plaza in the Castro twins’ boyhood neighborhood was packed with supporters who streamed through the gates between a mariachi band. Castro had said leading up to his announcement that a Latino candidate was a must in the 2020 field.

That group of hopefuls is starting to take shape even though the first primary elections are more than a year away.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California this past week published a memoir , a staple of presidential candidates. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is doing little to dim speculation that he might jump into a field that has no clear front-runner.

Castro is aware he lacks the name recognition of potential 2020 rivals or the buzz surrounding O’Rourke, whose flirtations with 2020 have tantalized donors and activists after a close race last year against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Even some supporters at Castro’s announcement could be torn if O’Rourke gets in the race. Diana Delrosario, a social worker in San Antonio, warned she might cry while she recounted how Castro once went out of his way as mayor to help wheel her mother out of a restaurant.

“I have this heart for Julian. But it’s going to be a big discussion if Beto decides to run,” said Delrosario, 45.

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.

He was raised by a local Latina activist, and after a brief career in law, was elected mayor of the nation’s seventh-largest city at 34. It wasn’t long before Democrats nationally embraced him as a star in the making, particularly one from Texas, where a booming Hispanic population is rapidly changing the state’s demographics and improving the party’s fortunes.

Castro delivered the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Two years later, Obama picked him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He was on the short list of Hillary Clinton’s potential running mates in 2016. During Castro’s trip this past week to Nevada, one state Latino business leader told Castro that he should again be a top contender for vice president if his campaign falls short.

Like other Democrats running, Castro has said he will not accept money from political action committees tied to corporations and unions, and he has sought to introduce himself to voters as a champion for universal health care and affordable housing.

___

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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Democrats

Kamala Harris makes 2020 run official

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Kamala Harris makes 2020 run official

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has announced she will be running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. She joines a slew of Democrats who have already announced with plenty more expected to join the race soon.

She joins Julian Castro, John Delaney, Richard Ojeda, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren as major candidates who have declared or stated their intention of declaring soon. Then, there are 142 other people who have filed with the FEC to run for the Democratic nomination.

Add another 20 or so who have expressed interest publicly to run and they’re going to have to trade in the clown car for a clown bus.

My Take

Nobody is surprised by this. The Senator used the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings as a platform to promote herself and her future campaign, which she almost certainly intended at that point. Now, it’s official.

She has a good chance despite national polls showing her lower than Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and a handful of other better-known Democrats. California has an early primary next year, meaning she has a chance of getting a huge boost in delegates from her home state if she can remain viable at that point.

Another thing to watch is President Obama. He’s spoken more kindly of Harris than just about any other potential candidate other than Biden. If Joe doesn’t run, the former President might throw his clout in her direction.

Here’s how it’s playing out on her Twitter Moment:


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Democrats

2020 hopefuls lurching leftward to appeal to radical progressive base

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2020 hopefuls lurching leftward to appeal to radical progressive base

The great primary evolution is already starting. We saw it in 2016 as every Republican candidate tried to “evolve” their views to cater to the conservative base. No evolution was more striking than candidate Trump’s, who went from supporting gun bans and partial birth abortion as a younger man to being one of the most conservative candidates during the primaries.

We’re seeing it now with the Democratic candidates and potential candidates as they try to plant their ideological flags as far to the left as possible. Former Trump pollster John Mclaughlin gave his opinion on the leftward lurch of the field, focusing on Elizabeth Warren, Cory “Spartacus” Booker, and Kamala Harris. Each has attempted to paint themselves as the radical progressive the primary-voting base desires. All of them were much more moderate in the past. Warren was even a Republican in the 1990s.

The thing that makes this trend most disturbing is that the “far left” of the past is nothing compared to the radical progressivism of today’s Democratic base. By the time the primaries really heat up, most if not all will be full-blown socialists.


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Democrats

Pirro: Democrats putting politics over people

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Pirro Democrats putting politics over people

Following President Trump’s speech to America with his compromise offer to Democrats to secure the border and end the government shutdown, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro was in rare form as she went after Democrats for instantly rejecting the proposal. Her biggest target was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The President has requested funds in order to build a small portion of the border wall, render humanitarian assistance, improve drug detection technology, and hire 2,750 additional border patrol agents and 75 immigration judge teams. In exchange, he’s offering three years of extended protection for DACA recipients and those with Temporary Protected Status.

Here was her response:

My Take

There are many conservatives who are against the proposal. Under normal circumstances, I would be as well. But we’re approaching a full month of the government shutdown. Enough is enough.


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