|San Antonio Mayor to Give Keynote Address at Democratic Convention (966470)|
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San Antonio Mayor to Give Keynote Address at Democratic Convention
Posted by SMAZ on Tue Jul 31 20:29:51 2012
Paul Harris in New York - guardian.co.uk,
San Antonio's young city mayor Julian Castro has been chosen to give the primetime keynote address at the Democratic national convention this September, the first time the party has picked a Hispanic to give the high-profile speech.
The move is being widely seen as part of President Barack Obama's campaign strategy of cementing Hispanic voters into the Democratic coalition. Hispanics are also one of the fastest growing demographic groups in America with an increasingly powerful political presence across America. In 2008 Hispanic voters backed Obama over Republican challenger John McCain by 67 to 31%.
Castro is just 37, and one of the youngest mayors ever of a major American city. He has a twin brother, Joaquin Castro, a Texas state congressman currently running for a seat in House of Representatives. The move is certain to catapult Julian into a the media spotlight, and is a major opportunity for him to emerge as a national political figure. In 2004 Obama – then a relatively obscure state senator from Illinois – was chosen to give the same address at the Boston Democratic national convention that nominated John Kerry. Four years after that Obama won the White House.
In a video released along with the announcement Castro made a direct reference to Obama's 2004 convention speech. "I know I have got some big shoes to fill … I remember watching [Obama's] speech in 2004 and being inspired," he said. In the video Castro also paid tribute to Obama's healthcare reforms, something that many leading Democrats have been somewhat reluctant to do in the face of withering Republican attacks on the measures.
Perhaps in a taste of the speech to come, Castro also praised Obama's economic record and condemned Republican challenger Mitt Romney for opposing a bailout of Detroit's car industry. He ended the speech by saying in Spanish "estamos unidos", which translates as "we are united."
Castro has some biographical similarities with Obama. Like the president, Castro was born to a working-class single mother but later went on to Harvard law school. Indeed, Castro and his twin went to Harvard at the same time, with Julian starting his first run for San Antonio city council while still studying.
Like Obama, Castro has already been the subject of considerable media attention for an alleged ability to transcend racial boundaries, including a lengthy profile in the New York Times magazine that hailed him as a "Post-Hispanic Hispanic politician."
That article revealed that Castro has been on the radar of party bigwigs for several years, including being invited to a meeting at the Treasury and a White House economic summit. The piece also detailed someone who is likely to figure in Republican efforts to attack Castro: his mother, Rosie. She was a well-known figure in 1970s politics in San Antonio as a leading figure in La Raza Unida, an outspoken civil rights groups that espouses Mexican American nationalism. Castro has hung a 1971 La Raza Unida campaign poster featuring his mother in his office, according to the Times piece.
Castro, however, appears to be a modern centrist Democrat. He is a Roman Catholic, but has marched in San Antonio's gay rights parade and is pro-choice. He also does not share his mother's radical politics.
"I don't want to turn my back on my mother's generation. But we are less burdened," Castro told the newspaper.
Castro became mayor of San Antonio in 2009, becoming chief executive of America's seventh largest city at the age of just 34. Ironically, one interesting fact uncovered by the Times is that Castro is not fully fluent in Spanish, having been raised speaking English by his mother.
In choosing an Hispanic for their keynote speech the Democrats are also considerably behind the Republicans. In 1984, treasurer Katherine Ortega gave the keynote address at the party's convention that year in Dallas, Texas.