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The Brief: Sept. 5, 2012

Whether or not his keynote speech lived up to the hype, Julián Castro on Tuesday night planted his foot firmly on the national stage.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro

The Big Conversation:

Whether or not his keynote speech lived up to the hype, Julián Castro on Tuesday night planted his foot firmly on the national stage.

Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, last night delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, a speaking role that most famously went to Barack Obama in 2004, but also to Texans like Ann Richards, in 1988, and Barbara Jordan, in 1976 and 1992.

Amid deafening buzz, Castro — long viewed as a rising star among Texas Democrats — energetically delivered a nearly 20-minute speech in which he laced a strong defense of Obama's first term with reflections on his family's history and stinging attacks on Mitt Romney and Republican policies.

"I think [Romney is] a good guy. He just has no idea how good he’s had it." Castro said, adding: "We know that in our free-market economy, some will prosper more than others. What we don’t accept is the idea that some folks won’t even get a chance. And the thing is, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are perfectly comfortable with that America."

"Mitt Romney just doesn't get it," Castro repeated throughout the address, which drew enthusiastic applause.

His most emotional appeal came, though, while recounting the life of his Mexican-born grandmother, who he said worked as a maid and a cook after immigrating to Texas to leave a better life for her children and grandchildren.

"The American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay," Castro said. "Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation, but each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor."

As for the reviews, MSNBC's Chris Matthews called it "one of the best speeches I've ever heard"; Karl Rove deemed it "average." As Politico puts it: "The speech didn’t have quite the seismic impact of Obama’s keynote at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston, but many observers said it came as close to that mark as anyone has since." 

Either way, the hype surrounding Castro has inevitably renewed speculation about his political future. And this time, the speculation has moved beyond Texas.

“I think the kid, the young man, is a future star,” former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson told Politico. "He’s got the right stuff, the right background. He’s pushing the right centrist economic policies. I think you’re going to see him emerge first as a major political figure in Texas. And then he’ll go national."


  • In other convention news … U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez of San Antonio, who spoke to the whole convention on Tuesday, accused Mitt Romney of supporting the "racial profiling policies of Governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio." Houston Mayor Annise Parker and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, meanwhile, rallied Texas delegates, calling Republicans out of touch and encouraging Democrats to keep fighting back home. "We are going to talk to other Americans who may not be Democrats, and we are going to remind them that Democrats exist in Texas," Parker told delegates.
  • State Rep. Stefani Carter of Dallas is heading to perhaps the unlikeliest city to find a Republican this week: Charlotte. As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports, Carter will spend two days at the DNC to do media work for the Mitt Romney campaign. Carter had previously worked with the Romney campaign in July, when she was invited to attend the NAACP convention in Houston as one of his guests.
  • Planned Parenthood on Tuesday appealed a recent federal court ruling allowing Texas to ban the health provider from the state's Women's Health Program. The move came the same day the state's Department of State Health Services heard impassioned testimony from lawmakers and women's health advocates about the health program, which over the past year has been thrust into the middle of a state debate over abortion.

"Texas may be the one place where people actually still have bootstraps, and we expect folks to pull themselves up by them. But we also recognize there are some things we can’t do alone. We have to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow." — Julián Castro during his DNC keynote speech


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