URBANDALE, Iowa –– There was enthusiasm in the living room of a suburban home Friday night for Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, who discussed a wide variety of policy positions, from overhauling the immigration system to his recent rollout on helping communities like Flint, Michigan resolve the lead contaminations in the water system.
Although the most-talked-about water safety issues in Iowa deal with pesticides and nitrates coming from farmland run-off, the dirty water situation in Flint was something that resonated with voters in the room.
Castro’s plan calls for working with Congress to direct $5 billion dollars annually for 10 years, in order to “remediate lead in paint and soil and replace pipes in areas of highest need,” like Flint.
In the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN poll released last week, one percent of likely caucus goers said that Castro was their first pick. However, 20 percent of respondents said they were ‘actively considering’ caucusing for Castro.
Castro said he aims to grow his support further, and feels that it’s trending upwards.
“I’ve really appreciated getting to know the people of Iowa…I’m going to be back a lot,” Castro said. “…Right now, I don’t have the most resources, although you can help change that. I can tell that I’m steadily gaining momentum. More people are hearing about me, and I’m looking forward to these debates.”
Voters in attendance Friday evening quizzed Castro on helping DACA recipients and what he would do to take on Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell’s name comes up often at caucus events here, as he is seen by many voters as the largest roadblock to many of the progressive policies 2020 candidates, Castro included, have proposed.
Castro called the Trump presidency “the most embarrassing administration,” and said he would take executive actions to pass what he could. But, Castro said, the solution to this question is for Democrats to win back the U.S. Senate.
“It would help if y’all start here in Iowa,” Castro said.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is running her first reelection campaign ahead of 2020.
Castro was also asked about his thoughts on climate change by a 9-year-old girl in the crowd.
Speaking about how it’s a false choice that Americans have to choose between jobs and taking care of the environment, Castro related his experience to his time as mayor of San Antonio.
“I sat on the local utilities board…and we moved away from our coal-fired plants and invested in renewable energy, and I’m proud of that,” Castro said. “We need to do that as a country.”
Aides say Castro has plans to return to Iowa again next month following several more campaign stops across the state this weekend.