Castro takes a move out of Obama's playbook to reunite the country


Juliãn Castro seems to have adopted President Barack Obama’s strategy to unite a polarized country. He doesn’t say the word “Republican.”

Castro spoke to a crowd of about two dozen in the small town of Exira, Iowa, for about half-an-hour late Thursday afternoon and he only used the word “Republican” twice. The first time he said the word was to explain why Obama avoided the word and the second time he said it was when he referred to U.S. Representative Joe Wilson.

“You all may remember my former boss President Obama a lot of times wouldn’t even use the word ‘Republican’ because he was trying to gain some sense of ‘OK let’s go in the same direction here,’” Castro said. “I miss President Obama a lot.”

Responding to a question about how he’d unite a divided country, Castro said he would do two things.

First, he said he would work to make the federal government more transparent by making sure the Freedom of Information Act applies to congress.

Second, Castro said he would encourage “a system of redistricting that encourages people to have to reach across the aisle more.”

Castro was also pushed to answer questions about foreign policy as one audience member questioned his lack of experience on a world stage.

The former mayor of San Antonio said his first priority would be to rebuild alliances.

“This administration has begun to tear apart the very alliances that have kept this country safe since World War II – Germany, our alliance with Great Britain, with France, basically with Europe – keeping them in the dark, insulting them, taking hot shots at their leaders,” Castro said. “Right away what I would do is repair those alliances with Europe.”

He also said on his first day in office he would call the leaders of Canada and Mexico because “those are our neighbors.”

Castro then said the United States should adopt the equivalent of a Marshall Plan for Mexico and Latin America.

“If you think about it, these people that are coming to the border, they’re coming because they can’t find safety or opportunity in their home country,” Castro said. “I believe that we can engage those countries in a way where we benefit as Americans, but they’re also able to find more safety and more opportunity in their own country.”

When it comes to reducing the national deficit, which Castro was also asked about, he said he would fix a broken pattern of “giving big tax breaks to the corporations and to the wealthy.”

That puts too much strain on the middle class and poor, he said.

“We have a rental affordability crisis in our country right now, but we haven’t made the same kind of commitment to affordable housing that we did all the way up through the 1970s,” Castro said. “And because of that, we have millions and millions of dollars of public housing out there that is going to waste because it needs to be repaired.

“I think that when we think about the deficit and we think about the debt…we need to take responsible fiscal measures to address it,” he continued. “But we need to do that by investing in the middle class and creating economic growth there and not by this trickle down economics theory that says if you just cut taxes for the wealthy and the corporations and allow these loopholes that somehow you’re going to get ahead.

“I believe that if you invest in the brain power, the livelihood, the quality of life of the middle class, of those who are working hard and aspiring, that that’s how in the long-term, in addition to fiscal responsibility, we’re going to close that gap.”