Julian Castro announces he's exploring presidential bid in video

The former Obama Housing secretary is among the first to officially declare his intentions in what is expected to be a crowded 2020 Democratic field.
Julian Castro
Julian CastroSandra Lilley / NBC News

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By Alex Seitz-Wald

WASHINGTON — Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro announced Wednesday he is exploring a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, saying in a video posted online that he'll make a final decision in mid-January.

Castro, whom Hillary Clinton considered for the vice presidential slot in 2016, has been publicly mulling a presidential campaign for months and is now one of the first Democrats to officially declare his intentions in what is expected to be a crowded field.

"I’ve spent the past several years traveling around America and listening to people's concerns — mothers from Arizona, college students in Iowa, teachers in Florida. It doesn't matter where we come from, we want the same things, we want to do right by our families, we want America to keep its promises," Castro says in the video. "Americans are ready to climb out of this darkness...That's why I am exploring a candidacy for president of the United States in 2020."

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In the video, Castro painted an optimistic picture of the future and his family story as one that embodies the American dream, where he could serve in President Barack Obama's Cabinet just two generations after his grandmother worked as a maid after arriving in the country at the age of 7.

"I never thought, when I was growing up on the west side of San Antonio, that I would be speaking to you about this today," he said.

One of the few high-profile Latinos in the Democratic Party, Castro served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under Obama and mayor of his native San Antonio, Texas, before that. His identical twin brother, Joaquin, represents the city in Congress.

"Julián is a progressive Latino leader with an outstanding record of fighting for our community and working families across the country," said Cristóbal Alex, the president of the Latino Victory Fund, which get Hispanic politicians elected to public office. "Now more than ever, we need Latino candidates running for office at all levels of government."

Among high-profile Democrats, Castro follows only Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., who announced his presidential campaign in July of 2017, and Richard Ojeda, who lost in a House race in West Virginia last month and recently declared his bid for the White House.

Castro's move signals that the Democrats' 2020 campaign is off to a faster start than the 2016 contest, when candidates in both parties did not start announcing their candidacies until the spring of the year before the election.

Ben Kamisar contributed.