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Julian Castro on mobilizing Latino voters to support Biden

Julian Castro of Texas was the youngest member of former President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, in which he served as secretary of housing and urban development. Castro also ran for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year. He joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why he believes Biden can “bring this country together” after President Trump’s “shameful” handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    But we want to go now to a man who was once a rival to Joe Biden during the primaries.

    He is Julian Castro of Texas. He was the youngest member of President Obama's Cabinet, serving as the secretary of housing and urban development.

    Secretary Castro, it's good to see you.

    You ran very hard against Joe Biden in the primaries. You worked with him as vice president. Why are you supporting him right now?

  • Julian Castro:

    Well, because he's a man who I think can bring this country together.

    He's someone who believes in opportunity for everybody. We have had four years of a president who believes in opportunity only for people who look like him and who have a wallet as big as his. And Joe Biden has been working his entire life to expand opportunity for everybody in this country.

    It's also true, as Michelle Obama pointed out beautifully last night, that Joe Biden is a man of character and also somebody who understands how to make our government work. And we desperately need that right now, over 170,000 deaths in this country to COVID-19.

    When you compare the performance of the United States vs. other countries around the world, it is shameful how badly mismanaged this COVID response has been by this administration.

    Joe Biden understands effective government. And I think, whether you're left or right, people understand that now, more than ever, we need an effective government.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It was written in some of the commentary I was reading today that there weren't very many Latino speakers at the convention last night.

    Did that strike you? What did you make of that? Is this campaign paying enough attention to the Latino community?

  • Julian Castro:

    Well, I think that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both have very strong track records and a good story to tell when it comes to the Latino community, I mean, starting with the fact that the Obama/Biden administration implemented, passed the Affordable Care Act, and got it implemented.

    That was four million Latinos that were able to get health care because of that, educational opportunity, housing opportunity. They have both been great on that.Then, the campaign a couple of weeks ago released a Latino agenda for America that looks very promising.

    I commented, like other people did, that, when the prime-time lineup was released, only three out of 35 speakers were Latino. There were no Native Americans, no Muslim Americans. And I said that I didn't think that that necessarily reflected the beautiful, diverse coalition the Democrats have won with over the last few years, and that we needed to send better signals to everybody, including Latinos, if we're going to get everybody off the sidelines and into the voting booth to defeat Donald Trump.

    Fortunately, they added some participants over the weekend, which I think is an improvement. I do think it would make more sense to give great rising stars like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez more time than just 60 seconds, and to add to the lineup.

    But it's a work in progress. And all of us are going to work very hard, hand in hand, to make sure that we turn out as many people as possible, and that we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in November.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it sounds like you're talking to the campaign about that.

    I want to ask you about a poll, though. There's a new poll that just came out yesterday, Latino Decisions, shows two-thirds of Latinos saying, as of now, that they plan to vote for or lean in favor of Joe Biden. But a quarter of them say they plan to vote for or lean in favor of President Trump.

    Are you surprised that President Trump may get as much as a fourth of the Latino vote?

  • Julian Castro:

    Well, that was a very powerful reminder, that and other polling, that we can't take anything for granted.

    Look, Joe Biden resonates with the Latino community. I believe that he's going to win the Latino community big. But what I also know is that Donald Trump and his team are doing everything that they can to try and suppress the vote, from sabotaging our Postal Service, to trying to chill the willingness of the Latino community to vote by being so anti-immigrant and raising questions about people's ability to vote.

    So, we can't take anything for granted.

    It's also true that this is going to be the most unusual election that we have had in a very long time, just in terms of the mechanics, because of the coronavirus.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Julian Castro:

    And that means that the usual campaign methods are not going to be available.

    Digital efforts, telephonic efforts are going to be that much more important. And that means that we have to be on our game, because the Latinos oftentimes are used to people knocking on the door and telling them why they should vote for a candidate, and probably three or four visits before Election Day.

    That's not going to happen. We're going to have to adapt. And, fortunately, the Biden campaign gets this. And I think the DNC gets this. And I'm going to do everything that I can to help make sure that the turnout is there.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You mentioned immigration.

    How comfortable are you with Joe Biden's position on immigration? I'm asking because, during the primaries, we heard you during the debates. You accused him at one point of wanting to take credit — when you're talking about deportations, wanting to take credit for the good things that happened in the Obama/Biden administration.

    But anything that's questionable, you said he passed off as the decision of President Obama.

    Where are you on that right now?

  • Julian Castro:

    Well, I'm pleased that, throughout the course of this campaign, Vice President Biden has released good immigration policy.

    And the difference between Biden and Trump is just night and day. I mean, Donald Trump is the cruelest, most ill-intentioned and dark-hearted president when it comes to migrants, immigrants, people seeking a better life in this country.

    He has been absolutely horrible. And Latinos understand the urgency of replacing this president with a man like Joe Biden, who will show common sense and show compassion, has a track record of working with groups that are trying to improve our immigration system, and has a strong vision to reform that system, and has promised to make that real, which is important.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, just quickly, you had also talked about no criminal action against illegal immigrants, and it was something he disagreed with you on.

    But it sounds like that's a work in progress.

  • Julian Castro:

    Look, of course, I don't expect everybody that I support to agree with everything that I put out there. That's why we're different candidates.

    But what I can say is that, when it comes to immigration, that Joe Biden would be a far superior president, in terms of putting a reasonable immigration system in place, vs. the cruel system that Donald Trump has created.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

  • Julian Castro:

    Thanks, Judy.

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