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ATLANTA — Even though he would not be onstage at the Democratic debate in Atlanta on Wednesday night, presidential candidate Julián Castro spent the morning in the city anyway touring a neighborhood founded by slaves whose residents are now fighting gentrification.

Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, toured the neighborhood, named Pittsburgh, that was founded in 1883, making it one of the oldest in the city and where many of the neighborhood’s residents have lived for decades.

Although he joked he had was in Atlanta because that’s where the media was, Castro said his visit was a continuation of what his campaign has been about.

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“From the very beginning of this campaign, I’ve spoken out for the most marginalized, the people that have been forgotten, for the poor and not only the middle class, but people who are poor in this country and spoken out to make sure everyone can succeed, a country where everyone counts,” Castro said. “And so we’re going to go where we have the opportunity to deliver that message.”

In tweets of the event, Castro said the neighborhood’s residents are being pushed out for development. He said he met with organizers from Community Movement Builders and Swope Dreams. Castro toured a garden that is used to provide fresh food in the neighborhood, which has limited access to fresh produce and is considered a food desert. He also viewed an aquaponics system that uses goldfish excrement to fertilize nearby growing plants.

In response to a reporter’s question, Castro said Wednesday’s impeachment hearing testimony by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, is the “nail in the coffin” for President Donald Trump.

“People know now that we have a president who has violated his oath of office, who has abused his power, who has tried to get other countries to do his political dirty work, bribed them to do so with military aid that he was withholding,” Castro said.

On Tuesday night, Castro participated in an event with podcast host Angela Rye and about 100 people who packed the historic restaurant where it was held, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Castro planned to watch the debate from his campaign office in San Antonio, his campaign said.

In a Facebook post, Castro said some have asked him why he’s staying in the 2020 presidential race if he didn’t make the debate. He answered his own question.

“In the communities I grew up in, people didn’t quit when it got tough,” said Castro, who grew up in San Antonio’s west side, a historically poor, Mexican American area. “Those folks deserve a candidate who has lived their struggles, who champions the issues that impact them.”

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Pete Buttigieg talks 2020 election, diversity in Democratic party



In an exclusive interview, 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg sat down with NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard to discuss varying issues including diversity in the Democratic party, his appeal to voters and how he compares to former Vice President Joe Biden.

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Trump asks Supreme Court to void financial records subpoena



WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to void a subpoena from the House of Representatives that seeks the president’s financial records from his accounting firm.

The justices already have shielded the documents from being turned over while they consider whether to hear Trump’s case and his separate appeal of a court order that requires the same accounting firm, Mazars USA, to give his tax returns to the Manhattan District Attorney.

The court could say as early as mid-December whether it will hear and decide the cases by the end of June.

Yet another case involving House subpoenas for Trump’s records from New York banks also is headed for the Supreme Court, and the justices are likely to prevent the handover of any documents for the time being.

The two court cases involving House subpoenas are distinct from the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

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Buttigieg slams disruption of black supporters’ rally that turned into chaos



Pete Buttigieg on Thursday criticized an explosive — and nearly violent — interruption by a protester in a “Black Lives Matter” shirt at a gathering of African American supporters in South Bend, Indiana, as an “unfortunate” result of the political “climate that we’re in.”

“It shows kind of where politics has come to, especially for somebody to interrupt an African American woman who was speaking about her truth and in her experience,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, told NBC News about the Wednesday night incident.

“But this is the climate that we’re in and we need to continue making sure that everyone is empowered to speak their truth, their experience, and in particular, when it comes to South Bend’s story,” he said.

Buttigieg was responding to a skirmish — caught on video — at which several African Americans who support his campaign were interrupted by a protester.

Sharon McBride, a black South Bend Common Council member, was speaking about why she backs Buttigieg, who has struggled to win over African American voters, when a man in the audience began shouting over her.

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“Where are the black leaders who don’t have three-piece suits, leather jackets, and nice clothing?” yelled a man who was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.

“Who chose these people as black leaders?” said man asked. He then approached the front of the room, grabbed the microphone from McBride and shouted, “Who organized them?”

“We have a police crisis in this town,” he said. “Why are we talking about Pete Buttigieg?”

Several local media outlets in South Bend identified the protester as Igor Rodriguez.

An older woman in the crowd then stood up and raised her cane above her head and gestured toward the man in what appeared to be a threat to strike him before being subdued.

Buttigieg was not present at the event, which was organized with the help of his campaign.

In a statement Thursday, Black Lives Matter-South Bend said it “fully supports the actions of our members and allies at the Pete for America press conference held in South Bend, IN, yesterday.”

“This protest represents only a fraction of the longstanding pain many Black, Brown, and poor citizens endure in Mayor Pete’s South Bend,” the group said.

The incident Wednesday night was the latest display of Buttigieg’s struggles to appeal to African-American voters. As his polling numbers have risen, Buttigieg has been forced to confront questions about his record on race, police accountability and crime reduction in South Bend, which all came to the forefront after police shot and killed a black man in June.

Buttigieg campaign staffers expressed anger and sadness after the incident.

Lis Smith, a senior aide for the Buttigieg campaign, tweeted that the protester was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir told NBC News that the campaign “does not support the disruption of any candidates’ events, and we condemn anyone who does so.”

Priscilla Thompson contributed.

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