FORT DODGE, Iowa -- Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro says he knows he might not be a household name.
“I know right now that I'm not the front runner in this race, but you know what? I wasn’t born a front runner, I didn't grow up a front runner, and I bet there are a lot of folks in this room who didn't grow up a front runner,” said Castro.
The former mayor of San Antonio spoke with voters in Fort Dodge on Saturday. He says not growing up a front runner instilled in him a work ethic which will serve him well in the coming months as he shares his vision with his potential supporters.
“The smartest, the healthiest, the fairest, and the most prosperous nation on earth. If we're going to be the smartest country in the world, we need to start early with universal pre-k for three and 4-year-olds,” said Castro.
Castro touted a universal pre-k program that he started while mayor of San Antonio funded by an eighth of a cent raise in the city's sales tax. He also spoke about his feelings toward healthcare.
“I want to make sure we want to strengthen Medicare for the people that are on it and we expand Medicare so that everybody can have Medicare if they want it in this country, and if folks want to have their own private insurance plan or supplemental plan, I think that's fine too,” he said.
One issue he didn’t raise on his own was his vision of agriculture, which is why he was asked by a member of the audience, Niki Conrad.
“They're really hard workers and there are a lot of issues that they cannot control that are thrust upon them and it’s a lot, it's a lot for a farmer to deal with and it would be nice to have the presidential candidates be able to recognize that,” said Conrad.
She said she was satisfied by Castro’s response.
“The number one thing is, I'm going to go listen and learn. I mean, you all can tell, I'm a city boy, I'm not going to lie. I did not grow up…these issues are not the things I was most familiar with, but I'm committed to listening and to learning and if I'm president, not forgetting about rural communities,” said Castro.
“I'm very happy that he was honest about it, that he doesn't know much about rural America because he's a city boy like he said. So, it's nice to have someone admit that. I think a lot of candidates are eager to speak about things they may not know a lot about, Iowa and rural communities, and so it was very refreshing to hear he didn't know but he was willing to learn about it,” said Conrad.
Castro did say he was aware of the impact the trade war with China is having on American farmers, and before he came to Fort Dodge he was in Storm Lake at an agriculture forum learning about issues rural Americans face.