Julián Castro takes questions at CNN town hall

By Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:23 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019
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10:14 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

In the Green Room with Julián Castro


Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro just chatted with CNN and answered a few questions before tonight's town hall.

We asked him 10 simple questions so voters can get to know him better.

Here's what he said:

CNN: What's one thing about you that surprises people?

Castro: "I think that one thing hardly anybody knows about me is I am the only person that you are going to meet that actually mixes Equal and Sweet'N Low and so I am going to die twice as fast."

CNN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Castro: "The best piece of advice I ever received is to believe in myself. My mom always made sure that my brother and I believed in ourselves."

CNN: What’s your favorite movie and why?

Castro: "Probably my favorite movie was 'The Breakfast Club' from the 1980s because it was just a fun movie at that time. I was just an 11-year-old kid to watch it. Every time I see it on TV, I have to stop and watch."

CNN: What was the last book you read?

Castro: "The last book I read was 'The Road to Camelot' and I am actually still reading it right now about a 1960 presidential election. I am also reading Harry Potter books because my daughter is 10 years old."

CNN: What is your greatest accomplishment?

Castro: "My greatest accomplishment professionally is Pre-K 4 SA in San Antonio to extend high-quality full-day pre-K to 4-year-olds in my hometown community. My greatest accomplishment in my personal life are my two children."

CNN: What three issues do we have to deal with right now?

Castro: "There is so much that our country has to tackle right now — making sure that everybody has health care in our country, ensuring that everybody has good job opportunities so they can reach their dreams and also making sure that we continue to improve our education system so that people can get the skills and the knowledge they need to compete in the 21st century economy."

CNN: What is the one thing we need to do about climate change immediately?

Castro: "We need to recommit ourselves to the Paris Climate Accord, so that America can lead again when it comes to climate change."

CNN: Name one thing that makes you different than all the other 2020 Democratic candidates.

Castro: "I am one of the few that candidates that actually has executive experience. As a former Cabinet secretary, I was in charge of a department with a $48 billion budget, 54 field offices, 8,000 employees and as the mayor of the seventh-largest city of the United States."

CNN: Is there anything you wish you could tell voters that you never get asked?

Castro: "You know, I can't think of anything. I have gotten asked so many questions. You know nothing comes to the top of my head. Well one thing comes to my head: the real way to tell my brother and me apart is that we're twins, but only one of us has actually had a perm — and it wasn't me. My brother likes to go around, telling people that the way to tell us apart is that I am a minute uglier than him. Don't believe him. He grew a beard for a month recently. But when he realized he didn't look enough like me and his approval ratings were plummeting, he shaved the beard off, so."

CNN: What does a Castro presidency have to offer Republican voters?

Castro: "I'd like to restore a presidency that's trying to bring the country together, restore integrity and honesty to the White House, be a president for everybody, not just people who agree with me and also be a president that looks to the future and not that past."

10:00 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Castro has an immigration plan to roll back Trump- and Bush-era laws

From CNN's Dan Merica

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The centerpiece of Julián Castro's plan provides a path to citizenship for "undocumented individuals and families who do not have a current pathway to legal status, but who live, work and raise families in communities throughout the United States," his campaign said in a release.

The plan would also create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, a group often described as Dreamers, and those undocumented immigrants who are currently in the country under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure.

Castro, if elected president, said he would increase refugee admissions, reunify families that have been separated at the border and allow deported veterans who served in the US military to return to the United States.

Why this matters: Castro's plan is the polar opposite to what President Trump has offered the United States and politically positions him as a Democratic leader on immigration.

But Castro isn't only targeting Trump-era policies.

Castro said he would repeal Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was used by the George W. Bush administration to apply a criminal violation — as opposed to a civil infraction — to anyone entering the United States illegally.

10:00 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Castro's brother is his campaign chairman and a Democratic congressman

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro (R) and his twin brother US Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) sit at a campaign appearance at Bell Gardens High School on March 4, 2019 in Bell Gardens, California.
Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro (R) and his twin brother US Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) sit at a campaign appearance at Bell Gardens High School on March 4, 2019 in Bell Gardens, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Julián Castro's personal story, along with that of his twin brother, Joaquin, has been central to his rise on the national stage.

Castro's brother — who is a Democratic member of Congress — also serves as his campaign chairman, according to a campaign news release provided to CNN.

Castro was raised primarily by his grandmother — who he called Mamo — and Rosie Castro, his Chicana political activist mother, eventually excelling enough to attend Stanford University and, eventually, Harvard Law School.

He returned home and served as a member of the San Antonio City Council and, from 2009 until 2014, the mayor of the city. Obama picked him to be housing secretary in 2014.

10:00 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

How Julián Castro announced his presidential run

Julián Castro announced his campaign at a rally in San Antonio, where he was once mayor, on January 12.

The former secretary of Housing and Urban Development walked out to "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by the Byrds, and said there was a "crisis of leadership" in the US during his speech.

Castro made his announcement twice: First in English and then in Spanish.

9:02 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019

SOON: Julián Castro will face voters

AP Photo/Eric Gay
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, a Democratic presidential candidate, will take questions on a host of issues at a CNN town hall in Washington, D.C.

The event, moderated by CNN's Don Lemon, starts at 10 p.m. ET.

Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, was one of the first candidates to jump into the 2020 race and is the only Latino politician running in 2020.

The son of a Chicana activist, Castro served as mayor of San Antonio in 2009, focusing on education initiatives.

Castro had been considering a bid for nearly two years and announced a presidential exploratory committee in December. He has long been viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party since he first landed on the national scene by delivering the keynote speech for President Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.