SAN ANTONIO (Texas) • US presidential contender Hillary Clinton has won the backing of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, and said she would seriously consider making the rising Hispanic leader her running mate if she wins her party's nomination.
Mr Castro, formerly mayor of the 63 per cent-Latino city of San Antonio in Texas, endorsed Mrs Clinton at a "Latinos for Hillary" event in the city on Thursday, the first of a series of such events designed to drum up Latinos' enthusiasm.
The timing of the endorsement was a boost for Mrs Clinton, coming on the heels of a strong performance at the Democratic Party presidential debate on Tuesday night.
Mrs Clinton and the other Democrats in the November 2016 race for the White House have pushed hard for support among Hispanics, a fast-growing and critical voting bloc that has moved towards the Democrats in recent elections as Republicans have stymied comprehensive immigration reform in Congress and disparaged Mexican immigrants on the campaign trail.
Mrs Clinton said she was "thrilled" to win the backing of Mr Castro. His twin brother Joaquin, a US congressman, has already endorsed her and campaigned with her in the state of Nevada.
"I am going to look really hard at him for anything because that's how good he is," Mrs Clinton said at a US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting in San Antonio, when asked if Mr Castro might be her vice-presidential pick.
Appearing with Mrs Clinton at the rally on Thursday, Mr Castro, 41, said he has long respected her ability to appeal to people of all backgrounds. "Through the years she has always, always been there for us, and today we're here for her," said Mr Castro, who is the second member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet to endorse Mrs Clinton, along with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.He said the difference between Mrs Clinton and the Republicans is that "she respects the Latino community".
Mrs Clinton herself tried a few words of Spanish. "I love being La Hillary," she said, referring to what signs scattered around the event called her. "But I am not just La Hillary, I am Tu Hillary," she added, using the Spanish word for "your".
She reiterated her position to go beyond Mr Obama's efforts to overhaul the immigration system. And she wasted little time reminding the crowd of some of the Republican candidates' comments about Latinos, condemning the hardline stance on immigration prominent in the Republican presidential race, particularly by Mr Donald Trump. "If you listen to all of them, they all to a degree or so sound like him, they just don't have the pizzazz or the hair, but they are making a lot of the same unfortunate points in their candidacies," she said.
But Mrs Clinton also addressed issues like the need for gun control, an issue that led to a contentious exchange with Senator Bernie Sanders in Tuesday's debate. Alluding to his comment that "all the shouting in the world" will not keep guns out of the wrong hands, she said: "I will not be silenced and we will not be silenced.
"REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES