Julián Castro may not have made the cut for Thursday's Democratic debate, but he ended up having quite a good night.
Castro had his best fundraising night of the month, beating what he got following the two previous debates — which included him.
Castro also turned his absence from the stage into a starring role for himself on social media.
His supporters and campaign staff made his debate night hashtag, #JulianDebates, and his Twitter handle, @JulianCastro, trend on Twitter.
"Last night, during a debate he didn't participate in, @JulianCastro was a top #15 trending story, he out fundraised two previous debates, and the issues he has led on like housing, immigration, and criminal justice were topics of the night," said campaign spokesman Sawyer Hackett. "He may not have been on stage, but his leadership was and with the renewed outpouring of support, he will be in December."
Throughout the night supporters were sending tweets decrying Castro’s absence from the stage, noting his positions on issues raised in the debate and posting previous news stories, videos and more about him, including Diane Guerrero, who starred in "Orange Is the New Black".
Campaign spokesman Sawyer Hackett clapped back at a USA Today story that said he was one of the debate losers, saying he was more “searched for” and raised more money than some of the candidates on stage.
“He was absolutely a winner, @USAToday,” Hackett said.
Castro saw a similar boost after he tangled with former vice president Joe Biden in a debate in Houston in September. He was blasted for questioning whether Biden had a memory lapse during the debate, but ended up with his best fundraising day that month too.
The clash, however, did slow what was a rising campaign at the time.
In October, he told supporters he would have to end his campaign if he did not raise $800,000 by the end of October. He hit the goal and then some, allowing him to buy a television campaign ad in Iowa. But he did have to close offices in North Carolina and New Hampshire, two of the early states.
Overcoming adversity has been a theme of Castro’s campaign; he has discussed how he had little room for error growing up because “the place that I came from, the neighborhoods that I came from, not a lot of people get second chances.”
Castro grew up on San Antonio’s West Side, a historically low income and neglected area of the city where it segregated its the Mexican American population.
Before the Democrats’ debate in Atlanta, Castro said in a Facebook post that people from communities like the one he grew up in didn’t quit when things get tough.
“Kids from my neighborhood don’t usually get to run for President,” he wrote in another post. “We’re used to folks telling us to sit down, be quiet, go away. I’m staying in the fight —for all those who don’t get the chance,” he stated.
He also ended the night with a fundraising plea, saying he needs 10,000 more new donors to meet the 200,000 required to qualify for the December 19 debate in California at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Castro still faces the daunting challenge of reaching an even tougher polling threshold to get to the December debate. Candidates must get 4 percent support in four national early-state polls approved by the Democratic National Committee or at least 6 percent in two polls in the four states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.