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Former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro kicks off 2020 presidential bid with blast at border wall

Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro announced Saturday his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, positioning himself as a foil to President Trump on immigration and border security.

Mr. Castro, 44, who also served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, said he would “make sure the promise of America is available to everyone in this 21st century.”

“There is no way in hell that caging babies is a smart or a right or good way to do it,” Mr. Castro told a crowd in San Antonio. “We say ‘no’ to building a wall and say ‘yes’ to building community. We say ‘no’ to scapegoating immigrants and ‘yes’ to Dreamers.”

Viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party, Mr. Castro joins two other announced candidates, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who entered the fray on Friday, and Rep. John Delaney of Maryland.

None of the three is viewed as a favorite for the party’s nomination in a field that could include better-known Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Mr. Castro could also find himself only the second-best-known candidate from Texas if former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso enters the race.

“I am not a frontrunner in this race, but I have not been a frontrunner at any time in my life,” he said.

Mr. Castro, who tapped his twin brother, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, to serve as his campaign chairman, drew headlines last week for bringing up the possibility of a 90 percent tax rate on the wealthiest Americans.

“There was a time in this country where the top marginal tax rate was over 90 percent,” Mr. Castro told ABC News. “Even during Reagan’s era in the 1980s, it was around 50 percent.”

Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens dismissed Mr. Castro’s bid as an effort to position himself as a vice presidential contender.

“Julian Castro has made history by becoming one of the biggest lightweights to ever run for president,” Mr. Ahrens tweeted. “He was a weak mayor who couldn’t even handle being HUD secretary. This is obviously just another desperate attempt to become someone else’s running mate.”

Meanwhile, Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa said Mr. Castro “reflects a new generation of Democratic leadership, represents the rising American electorate, and offers a historic candidacy.”

A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Mr. Castro served as San Antonio mayor from 2009-14 before being tapped by Mr. Obama to head HUD, a position he held from 2014-17.

Mr. Castro becomes the first Hispanic Democrat to enter the 2020 White House race. The 2016 Republican presidential field featured two top Hispanic contenders, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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