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By Mariana Atencio

SAN ANTONIO — Two days before the expected announcement of his presidential candidacy, Julián Castro described himself in an interview Thursday as “the antidote to Donald Trump.”

“Mine is an immigrant story,” said Castro, 44, formerly the secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration. “It’s an American dream story. It’s a testament that everybody counts in this country. And I look forward to sharing a vision where everybody, whether you’re Latino or any other background, you can reach your dreams in this country.”

Castro, whose grandmother migrated from Mexico in the 1920s, is expected to make the announcement Saturday in San Antonio’s Plaza Guadalupe, surrounded by his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, his wife, Erica, their two children and his mother, Maria “Rosie” Castro, a political activist.

In an interview at his house here as the president visited the state’s southern border with Mexico on Thursday, Castro called Trump’s planned border wall “a dumb way to use our resources.”

“What we don’t need is a wall that stretches the length of the border, some concrete wall that people are just going to be able to go over or go under,” he said.

A former mayor of San Antonio, a city in which Hispanics represent a majority, Castro made his case by emphasizing his roots and experience in comparison to the 20 or so other candidates expected to throw their hats into the ring — and particularly Beto O’Rourke, another young Texan making headlines.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily about always having the shiniest words or approach, “Castro said. “People want to know that somebody has the right experience and that they have the right vision to make sure that their family can succeed in this country. And I have that.”

In 2012, after Castro gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, some called him the future of the party. But he has since been eclipsed by other Democratic stars.

“Well, I’m not the frontrunner,“ he jokingly acknowledged. “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. And today, in this country, there are a lot of people that don’t feel like the frontrunner. … Fundamentally, this campaign is not going to be about me.”

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Brexit news: Will Queen be forced to SUSPEND Parliament?

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HARD Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Theresa May could prevent an extension to Article 50 and a delay to Brexit by shutting down Parliament early.

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Hakeem Jeffries defends calling Trump ‘Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’

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Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Allan Smith

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is standing by remarks he made Monday in which he called President Donald Trump “the Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

In an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” the House Democratic Caucus chairman said he had no regrets about the comment, which he made at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York City.

“We’ve got to have an opportunity for at least one day a year to have a candid if sometimes uncomfortable conversation about race,” Jeffries told CNN. “It seems to me that we can’t have that conversation on Valentine’s Day, we can’t have that conversation on Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s perhaps appropriate for us to be able to have that difficult discussion on MLK Day, when we’re celebrating the life and legacy of a champion for racial and social justice.”

Monday was not the first time Jeffries labeled Trump as such. But he told CNN that he “absolutely” does not think Trump is a Ku Klux Klan member. “Grand Wizard” is the title that was given to leaders of the white supremacist group.

“I did not use the words racist in any of my comments,” Jeffries said. “In fact, Wolf Blitzer in the past has asked me whether I believe the president is a racist, and I’ve consistently said no. I did use a colorful phrase, but of course I don’t believe that the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK. But it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous, at times, behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades.”

As examples, Jeffries cited a Justice Department lawsuit against the Trumps in the 1970s for alleged housing discrimination, the president’s remarks about the so-called Central Park Five, Trump’s promotion of the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and the president’s handling of the fatal violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Jeffries wasn’t the only Democratic leader to attack Trump’s racial record over the Monday holiday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in South Carolina: “It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist.”

In response, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted that Sanders’ remark was “disgusting and wrong.”

@realDonaldTrump has brought African American and Hispanic unemployment to record lows, passed historic criminal justice reform. Even worse that Bernie is using MLK Day to make an incendiary comment like that,” McDaniel wrote.



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Brexit latest: 'Mayhem' as Remainer MPs plot to halt UK leaving the EU

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BREXITEERS warned of “mayhem” yesterday as plotting Remainers unleashed plans to sabotage Brexit by seizing power from the Government.

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