'SNL' taps Lin-Manuel Miranda to play Latino presidential candidate Julián Castro

After criticism for excluding Castro from its season debut, the show had the "Hamilton" creator take on the role.

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By Dennis Romero

After being widely criticized for excluding Julián Castro from a debate sketch that included nine other top Democratic hopefuls in its season opener, "Saturday Night Live" got Lin-Manuel Miranda to step in as the Latino presidential candidate.

The "Hamilton" creator performed as Castro in a cameo that spoofed CNN's campaign town hall on LGBTQ issues, "Equality in America."

"As a Democrat. I want to apologize for not being gay," Miranda's Castro says. "But I promise to do better in the future."

He pitched himself as a version of the nation's last successful Democratic candidate for president.

"I'm young, I'm diverse, I'm latinobama," he said. "Let's get that hashtag going."

Two weeks ago, some prominent voices on social media were in no mood for SNL's jokes, as actor Cristela Alonzo and Castro's press secretary, Sawyer Hackett, led the charge against the show for Castro's exclusion.

"Could you not find a Latino actor to play @JulianCastro?" Hackett asked.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father, Luis A. Miranda Jr., reportedly told Castro's political director, Natalie Montelongo, that his son would be willing to step in to portray the candidate.

On Saturday, Castro responded favorably to Miranda's portrayal by referencing Miranda's famous "Hamilton" rap.

"Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, And I’m not throwing away my shot," Castro tweeted.

The show has been criticized over the years for hiring only a handful of Latino repertory players, including current cast member Melissa Villaseñor. On Saturday, "SNL" made up some ground with musical guest Grammy Award-nominated Cuban American Camila Cabello.

Kenan Thompson, David Harbour and Camila Cabello on Friday.Rosalind O'Connor / NBC

The CNN sketch featured another special guest, Woody Harrelson as former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also vying for the Democratic nomination for president.

"The vast majority of people are not homophobic," Biden says, "they’re just scared of gay people."

News segment "Weekend Update" hammered President Donald' Trump's impeachment woes.

Co-host Colin Jost trumpeted a recent Fox News poll that found 51 percent of registered voters are in favor of Trump's impeachment and removal from office.

"You know it's bad," he said, "because Fox News barely talked about their own poll."

He said there's has been so much bad news for Trump that CNN "has to switch to a smaller [chyron] font to fit it all."

Jost also took aim at two foreign-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, who were arrested Wednesday based on campaign finance allegations.

The suspects, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, appeared in booking photos as antagonists who "were somehow not killed by John Wick," he said.

Co-host Michael Che joined in, saying the pair "definitely wore tracksuits to their daughters' wedding."

Jost displayed photos of the president with the men.

"Before Trump says, 'I don’t even know these guys,'" he said, "here’s a quick slideshow I put together."

Actor David Harbour of Netflix’s "Stranger Things" hosted.