Joe Biden pulls Julián Castro into campaign, asks for help to 'tackle police reform'

As a Democratic presidential candidate, Castro put out a stand-alone police reform plan and cited names of police violence victims in his campaign speeches.
Image: US-VOTE-2020-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE
Julian Castro, Cory Booker and Joe Biden chat during a break in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit on July 31, 2019.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Suzanne Gamboa

Former Vice President Joe Biden followed a speech addressing the national protests over the death of George Floyd on Tuesday with a welcoming of Julián Castro to his campaign to help tackle police reform, an issue that was a cornerstone of Castro's failed presidential campaign.

“Julián — I made a promise to George’s family that he wouldn’t just become another hashtag. We’re going to tackle this head on — and we’re going to need your help to do it. Grateful for your support,” Biden said in a retweet of Castro's tweet of support for Biden.

The welcome mat for Castro, who was the only major Latino candidate in the Democratic presidential nomination race, comes almost two months after Castro first expressed support for Biden and amid a national uprising in peaceful and violent protests following Floyd's death after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.

In his speech, Biden called for Congress to take immediate steps to reform police, including outlawing choke holds, ending the transfer of military weapons to police, improving oversight and accountability of police and creating a national model on use of force.

A clip of that portion of Biden's speech was tweeted by Castro. Castro made police reform a major part of his campaign and often got rousing cheers when he stated one-by-one in speeches and debates the names of victims of police violence.

“Joe Biden recognizes the urgent need for real reform to address our broken policing system. I’m proud to support him, and I look forward to seeing these reforms become law, so that what happened to George Floyd never happens again,” Castro said in his tweet.

Castro’s tweet got a quick response in a tweet from Cristobal Alex, a senior adviser to Biden.

“So proud to join forces with Secretary @JulianCastro. As a leader for civil rights and a champion for police reform, Julián bring so much to this urgent national crisis, our campaign and the work that is needed to win in November and beyond. Welcome to #TeamJoe!” Alex said in his tweet.

Endorsements from just about every other 2020 rival to Biden for the nomination had been recognized for weeks by the campaign, generally with a press release announcement or event.

Castro's absence from Biden’s camp and the delay in the campaign officially accepting his support had become a point of speculation, particularly since Biden has been trying to ramp up his support among some parts of the Latino electorate.

Some former competitors had joined Biden on the campaign trail — before the coronavirus outbreak — or in online events. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, Texas, already had made two appearances with Biden, taking Biden to a Whataburger March 3, Super Tuesday, after a Dallas rally and then again in May for a virtual rally for young voters.

Such visibility can be a boost for any politician that may want a place in the administration, should Biden win or should the former candidate pursue another wage another election.

Castro spokesman Sawyer Hackett noted the official inclusion of Castro in the campaign as the nation grapples with race and policing is appropriate because Castro was the only presidential candidate who had a stand-alone police reform plan.

Castro recited the names of police violence victims and referred to Black Lives Matter starting with his his speech launching his presidential bid, followed in debates and did so again in his exit from the presidential campaign trail, Hackett said.

Castro served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama and was mayor of San Antonio as well as a city council member.

“He pushed police reforms as mayor and pushed them as HUD secretary. He is the Democrat who has led on this issue and pushed it when it wasn’t on the forefront of people’s minds,” Hackett said.

Biden's campaign continues to be working on ramping up its Latino support.

Biden has held a few Latino-focused events, including one with former Latino Cabinet secretaries, that did not include Castro, the most recent Latino Democrat to serve as a Cabinet secretary and the youngest former Cabinet secretary.

Biden and Castro had tangled in a Democratic debate in Houston last September when Castro was seen as questioning Biden’s memory. That clash seemed to stall his campaign, which got a boost when Castro sparred with O’Rourke on immigration. Several members of O’Rourke’s campaign now work for Biden, including O’Rourke’s former campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon.

After he exited the race in January, Castro endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and was an active surrogate for her.

After Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left the race, Castro expressed support for Biden, doing so in an April 8 tweet saying, “The Democratic Party must now come together behind @JoeBiden to defeat Donald Trump and restore integrity, decency and competence to the Oval Office.”

Even if he has not officially been part of the campaign, Castro has made various appearances in town halls and online with various organizations, stressing the need to defeat Trump in November.

Castro and Biden will be among those addressing the Texas Democratic Party's 2020 convention, being held virtually this week.

Castro recently launched a political action committee to support down ballot races and used his email list to appeal through the PAC for contributions to community activists groups working on police reform and equity in criminal justice.

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