Julián Castro has many qualities that make him a bearer of hope for the U.S. Democrats. Many already see the politician of Hispanic-American descent as the next candidate for election in 2016 and as a possible successor to Obama.
Shortly after entering office in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama called together a small group of experts in the White House to weigh in on how the American economy could be brought up to speed and how jobs could be created. Five mayors were present, local politicians who especially had to wrestle with the consequences of the financial crisis that had just hit the U.S. and the rest of the world. Among them was a remarkable young man from Texas.
Even before the exchange of ideas began, the young man was taken aside without attracting attention. A high-ranking Obama adviser told him, “We have you on our radar screen.”*
What somewhere else might sound like a veiled threat was apparently meant as honest praise. And Julián Castro could already imagine that there was more to come.
That has now happened. Julián Castro, only 37 years old, will deliver the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention at the beginning of September. The final phase of the election campaign between Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will begin in Charlotte, North Carolina and, according to tradition, it will depend on Castro. If the mayor succeeds in delivering a good speech, it will help Obama, or so the Democrats hope. If Castro fails, as the Republicans hope, Romney will be pleased.
With the choice of Castro, the Democrats have pulled off a major coup. The man is young, but not too young. He is married and has a small daughter, coming close to the ideal picture of the family in the U.S. He has a law degree from Harvard University and a degree in political science from Stanford, but doesn’t seem to be out of touch with reality. He has proven that he can be tough. After a failed bid for the office of mayor of the seventh largest city in the U.S., San Antonio, he tried again right away in 2009 — and won. “Time Magazine” already included him in its list of “40 under 40.”
A Bonus in the Latino Community
But above all, Castro is Hispanic, although he was born in the U.S in 1974 to a woman who strove for the rights of the Latinos. That he is permitted to give one of the most important speeches of the year could be received favorably by the quickly growing group of Latino voters in the U.S. The liberal U.S. press is rejoicing. And even the conservative newspapers and news stations, which customarily don’t miss any opportunity to criticize the Democrats, cannot hide a certain admiration for choosing Castro.
The so-called “keynote speech” is indeed one of the most important events during the national conventions in the U.S. The candidates for the most important office have long since been decided. The political platform has also been defined. But that’s not what the conventions are about. The “keynote speaker” is supposed to heat up the morale and set the tone that will carry through the weeks up to the election at the beginning of November. The “keynote speaker” virtually sounds the call to attack.
That is no easy task, and Castro will be measured by a great example. On July 27, 2004, an up to then little-known man took the stage in Boston in the state of Massachusetts. He spoke about himself and his life. He spoke of how he envisioned America’s future. And he spoke of why John Kerry would be a better president than George W. Bush.
Now it is sufficiently well-known that Kerry got little out of the speech. He lost against Bush in the election of November 2004. But for the up to then relatively unknown man from Chicago, the appearance was the beginning of a meteoric career in the U.S. “He is a star — the sky is his limit,” rejoiced the Democrats. If anyone could, then this man. The man was named Barack Obama, by the way. He was elected president in 2008. On November 6, 2012, he wants to be reelected.
Yet the example from Boston is already having an impact. The political reports in the U.S. media revolve around not only Obama, but also these questions: Will Julián Castro replicate the president’s performance? Will he give a speech that will promote Obama as well as his own career? Will he perhaps be the candidate of the U.S. Democrats in 2016? Can he do that? Will he pull it off? Answers can’t be provided yet. And Castro himself is politely refraining from commenting — he’s working on his speech.
*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.
Edited by Gillian Palmer