Ex-Obama housing secretary: Trump ‘dividing us’

February 17, 2018

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2016 file photo, then-U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro speaks during a news conference in Providence, R.I. Castro is scheduled to headline the New Hampshire Young Democrats' Granite Slate Awards Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in Manchester, N.H. Castro said he'll decide by the end of the year whether he makes a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro took jabs at President Donald Trump during a Democratic awards event in New Hampshire Friday night, saying the president is “dividing us instead of bringing us together.”

During a speech at the New Hampshire Young Democrats Granite Slate Awards that was interrupted numerous times by applause, Castro said “when he’s not golfing or tweeting or vacationing, the president is dividing us instead of bringing us together. He’s breaking promises.”

The former San Antonio mayor and Obama administration official is considering a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But he didn’t address any White House ambitions during his 30-minute speech. Earlier Friday he told The Associated Press he would decide whether to launch a campaign by the end of the year.

“Between now and November we have elections. So I’m going to spend my time helping young, progressive Democrats get elected throughout the county,” he said. “And then after November and before the end of the year, I’ll take time and make a decision about my own future.”

He said over the next few months he will be able to “get a sense of what people are thinking and also the reaction out there, and what’s important to the voters.” By doing that “I’m convinced that I’ll come to a decision as to whether I’m going to jump in or not.”

Castro grabbed national attention in 2012 when he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic presidential nominating convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was the first Latino politician to give the high-profile address.

Four years later, Castro was among the politicians mentioned as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before she chose Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as the party’s vice presidential nominee.

Castro returned to San Antonio after Obama left the White House just over a year ago. He’s writing a memoir and is a distinguished fellow at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

In his speech, Castro criticized the Trump White House, saying “they’ve had ethics scandal after ethics scandal. Cronyism. Misuse of tax dollars. One cabinet secretary already resigned because he was taking private jets everywhere.”

And speaking in New Hampshire, hard hit by the drug epidemic, Castro slammed the Trump administration for putting “Kellyanne Conway, a pollster, in charge of the task force on the opioid crisis.”

“This administration and this Congress don’t have a clue,” Castro said. “But we get it. Democrats do get it.”

The New Hampshire Young Democrats said 250 people attended the gala, which they described as the largest crowd ever at one of their fundraising events.

Lucas Meyer, the group’s president, said he invited Castro because he’s “committed to electing young progressives in 2018.”

Earlier in the day Castro met and took questions from more than 25 Saint Anselm College students gathered at the school’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Update hourly