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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.”
When asked what his future candidacy represented for Hispanic Americans, Castro said, “I’m proud to be Latino, I’m proud to be American. And as president, I would have to represent all Americans.
“At the same time, there’s no question that today, a lot in the Latino community fell targeted by this president,” he said, referring to Trump’s hardline immigration stance and anti-immigration rhetoric.
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Sarah Sanders has no regrets, apologies or comment on a run for Arkansas gov
WASHINGTON — Regrets? Sarah Sanders has but few — and none when it comes to the ever-dwindling number of formal press briefings held during her tenure as press secretary.
“No, I don’t” have any regrets, Sanders responded on Thursday afternoon, the 94th day since the last formal White House briefing was held on March 11.
“I still contend that we are the most accessible White House,” she said, adding that it’s “far more important for me to have played a role in facilitating direct contact with the President of the United States and the American people.”
Sanders didn’t apologize for making herself less available from the briefing room; she occasionally stops to speak with reporters during informal “stakeouts” that have become de rigueur outside the West Wing.
Seated at her desk in the West Wing, in front of a bulletin board dotted with her children’s artwork, Sanders — in an impromptu exit interview — reflected on her time as the top press aide to a president who acts as his own press secretary.
Asked if she would have done anything differently, Sanders responded: “Certainly, there are things. I mean, I’ll spend some time thinking about what those are.”
Sanders said she told President Donald Trump about her decision to depart the White House on Thursday morning, describing him as supportive and understanding. She said she wanted to leave to spend more time with her family and young children, ages 7, 5 and 4.
“No, it’s not like I just woke up and realized I had kids, but I wanted to have the opportunity to spend some more time with them, particularly over the summer,” she said.
And she also indicated the 2020 election timeline played a part in her decision: “I feel like it’s important for the president to be able to put somebody in place as he moves into the campaign season.”
Sanders said she had no plan to play any official role in the Trump campaign, and repeatedly dodged questions on whether she’d run for governor of Arkansas: “I don’t know. I’ve learned a long time ago never to rule anything out.”
Sanders is the longest-tenured press secretary in the Trump administration, serving more than 70 times as many days as Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted about a week-and-a-half in the role.
She has not spoken with the president about her successor or any transition period, Sanders said, though she plans to travel back to Arkansas later this summer.
Sanders, who has been with the president since his campaign, is among his closest aides and confidantes, often sitting at the table with Cabinet secretaries and other dignitaries.
But her time at the White House has been marked by controversy, and her relationship with the press has been a fraught one. In addition to the dwindling formal press briefings, she admitted, according to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, to lying to the press from the White House podium.
At the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, she was excoriated and mocked by comedian Michelle Wolf. And at the height of the Trump administration’s family separation scandal, Sanders was asked by the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, to leave — a move that reverberated through Washington as Democrats defended the owner and Republicans defended Sanders.
In her office Thursday, Sanders seemed contemplative: “Even the hard days are special.”
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