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WATCH: Castro Goes After Buttigieg For Unpopularity With Black Voters: He Won’t ‘Excite A Big Part Of Our Base’

By  Molly Prince
Julian Castro speaks during the Nevada Democrats' "First in the West" event
David Becker/Getty Images

Former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro put forth on Sunday that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s unpopularity among black voters may ultimately cost Democrats the presidential election in 2020.

“I believe that Mayor Buttigieg has a real problem with black voters because of his track record as mayor of South Bend,” Castro told the crowd while speaking at the Nevada State Democrats’ First in the Nation event. “It’s a bad track record with black voters that was reflected in the policies that he put in place and the relationship with the community there in South Bend.”

“My concern is, are we really going to risk putting somebody at the top of the ticket who is not going to excite a big part of our base?” He continued. “To me, that’s playing into [President] Donald Trump’s hands in 2020 because he won in 2016 based on the turnout of African Americans falling, particularly when it comes to communities like Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia that are in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania.”

While Buttigieg has been gaining momentum nationally and in some early states such as Iowa, he has still been failing to gain traction with African-American voters. He formally introduced his 18-page Douglass Plan in July amid criticism of his handling of a racially-tinged police shooting in his hometown of South Bend. The sweeping proposal calls for a broad series of political and policy reforms including issues such as criminal justice, education, housing, health disparities, voting rights, and even the racial wealth gap.

The plan seeks to convince black voters that he deserves their support despite their reported skepticism, but has moved the needle little since it was first previewed during the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Forum in South Carolina.

“If you can’t excite people and speak to the African American voter in a genuine way that’s based on a track record, then it’s too risky to be at the top of the ticket because we’re risking another loss,” Castro said. “And so, my hope is that in the next 10 weeks that, you know, we’re going to see some changes.”

The Democratic hopeful also positioned himself as a candidate with a strong record of enacting policies to help the black community, from both his time serving as the mayor of San Antonio to his work in the Obama administration.

“When I was HUD Secretary, I had the opportunity to visit and work with a hundred different local communities — big cities and small towns. And I was mayor of a city that was 14 times larger than South Bend, Indiana,” Castro said. “I’ve seen a lot when it comes to urban policy, and not only that, have a stronger track record not only with the black community in San Antonio verses Mayor Buttigieg’s record with the black community in South Bend, I actually have a record of accomplishment of things that I can point to from the time that I was mayor and HUD secretary, unlike Mayor Buttigieg that you never hear what did he actually do in office when he was there.”

“This is nothing personal against Mayor Buttigieg, but this is about vetting somebody to become president of the United States and you’re going to have to stand toe-to-toe against Donald Trump and make the argument for why people should elect you,” he continued. “I just don’t think the argument’s there for Mayor Buttigieg.”

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