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Julián Castro Identifies Himself as a Progressive Presidential Candidate During SXSW Session 

click to enlarge SARAH MARTINEZ
  • Sarah Martinez
South By Southwest attendees got to experience an intimate conversation with former San Antonio mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro on Sunday.

During the "Conversations About America's Future" event at the Moody Theater, Castro sat down with HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen for an hour-long discussion that introduced the locally famous politician to festival attendees from around the country.

Polgreen asked Castro where he saw himself fitting into the political spectrum, noting his upbringing in Chicano politics.

"I consider myself a progressive," Castro answered. "There are 15 people in this race. What you're going to get is on different issues, you're going to get people who are more to the left and some people that are more in the middle. I'm sure that's going to be true with me too."

Polgreen grilled Castro about his experience, asking if his time as mayor in the Alamo City and later as secretary of housing and urban development during the Obama administration were enough to prepare him for the White House.

"What people want is somebody that understands how to do effective public service," Castro said. He noted that voters in 2016 believed Donald Trump's business background would make him a successful president. Castro, however, added that believes public service is more important.

"It's more than enough," he said.

Polgreen also pointed out Castro's lack of foreign policy experience.

"We've seen that presidents can come into office without that kind of experience," Castro said. "As long as they surround themselves with a strong team, they're able to do a great job for the country, and that's what I would do too."
click to enlarge SARAH MARTINEZ
  • Sarah Martinez
Castro said his lawmaking experience and "inclusive vision for the country" are enough for him to have a successful presidential bid.

While he hasn't solidified the platform for his presidential run, Castro has publicly endorsed universal prekindergarten, Medicare for all, the Green New Deal and initiatives endorsed by Democratic Socialist leaders like Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Polgreen was sure to ask Castro about his thoughts on Ocasio-Cortez, who was part of a moderated conversation on Saturday. Taking place inside one the the largest ballrooms in the Austin Convention Center, the room quickly filled up and overflowed into another room for the congresswoman's speaking event on the "New Left."

Castro called her a "breath of fresh air."

"Very talented, impressive. Not only in her victory in New York, but also the way that she has articulated her vision for the country's future," Castro said. "I'm glad that she's going to be a strong and powerful voice for not only the direction of the Democratic party but the direction of our country for a long time to come."

Perhaps the excitement over the "New Left" caused Castro to echo his stance on favorite progressive issues. He voiced support for marijuana legalization, free college tuition, a universal basic income and reparations for descendants of slaves.

Though he's nowhere close to being a front-runner in the crowded Democratic presidential candidates, Castro maintains he's running to win in 2020.

"We need new energy, new leadership," Castro said. "We need a president that can make sure in the years to come that we move forward as one nation with one destiny. As I see it, that destiny is to be the smartest, the healthiest, the fairest and the most prosperous nation on earth."

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