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Julián Castro set to launch presidential bid with San Antonio speech

Julián Castro, the federal housing secretary under Barack Obama, is expected to announce his presidential bid on Saturday with an address in his home city of San Antonio, Texas, where he served for five years as mayor.

The 44-year-old, who rose to national prominence with an electrifying keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic convention, seems set to become the second high-profile Democrat to announce their candidacy for 2020 following Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign launch at the end of last year.

Castro, whose grandmother came to the US from Mexico in the 1920s, would be vying to become the party’s first Hispanic-American nominee amid a field of that could swell to more than 20 candidates. The Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard declared a bid on Friday.

In an interview with NBC News on Friday, Castro said: “Mine is an immigrant story. It’s an American dream story. It’s a testament that everybody counts in this country.”

Castro was vetted as a potential vice-presidential running mate to Hillary Clinton in 2016, but was overlooked as Virginia senator Tim Kaine was given the role.

Since his time in Obama’s cabinet Castro has slipped away from the public limelight as a new crop of young Democrats, including California senator Kamala Harris and former Texan congressman Beto O’Rourke, have gained national notoriety. Harris and O’Rourke are also seriously considering presidential runs.

The Texan Democrat appeared to acknowledge his status as an outsider in his interview with NBC. “Well, I’m not the frontrunner,” he said. “But, you know, I don’t think I can think of one time in my life where I was the frontrunner. If you go to the neighborhood that I grew up in, nobody that was growing up there was the frontrunner.”

A lawyer by training, Castro was born into a noted family of political activists. His mother, Rosie Castro, is a prominent civil rights activist in San Antonio, a city of 1.7m people in south central Texas. His twin brother, Joaquín Castro, is the Democratic congressman for Texas’s 20th district.

The father of two married elementary school teacher Erica Lira Castro in 2007. He is expected to be flanked by his wife, their two children and his brother during his address on Saturday morning.

Hispanic activists were already celebrating Castro’s potential run for the White House, arguing his politics and life story served as an antidote to the Trump presidency, which has long been characterized by anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“In this environment where Latinos in particular have been in the crosshairs, where we have a president who started his campaign on the first day attacking us, to have someone like Julián to step up for our community to defend us and to defeat this monster in the White House gives us great pride, or orgullo as we say in Spanish,” said Cristóbal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Fund, which helps elect Hispanic politicians.

“His story is really the American story,” Alex said.

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