CEDAR RAPIDS — Julian Castro says he is committed to “speaking bluntly, and being bold and fearless” as he campaigns for support in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.
And that means telling Iowans things they may not want to hear — like how the Iowa caucuses should not really be first.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” the Texas Democrat said Monday after attending a Veterans Day observance in Cedar Rapids. “That’s the truth. Not a lot of people are willing to say it.”
Castro said he holds no animus toward Iowans, but doesn’t think Iowa — or New Hampshire, which hosts the first primary eight days after the Iowa caucuses in February — is representative of the demographics of the nation or the Democratic Party.
“I have tremendous respect for the people of Iowa and New Hampshire,” said Castro, a Hispanic candidate. “They take the process very seriously. I’ve enjoyed the fact that people will go out to town halls and listen to many different candidates before they make up their minds. However, Iowa has had the caucus since 1972 and our country has changed a lot since 1972. The Democratic Party has changed a lot since 1972.”
Iowa is 91 percent white and 21 percent of its voting-age adults are senior citizens, according to census data. The United States is 76 percent white, and 16 percent of the population is 65 or older.
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Castro acknowledged his comments, first made Sunday on NBC News, might not be popular with the state’s political activists. But he thinks many Iowans see his point.
“One of the great things was that we saw on Twitter yesterday was people from Iowa tweeting out that even though they live here in Iowa, that they actually agree and have agreed for a while that other states actually deserve a chance to go first,” Castro said.
Ellen McDonald tweeted that as an Iowan she has “felt extremely lucky to have access to candidates. Even so, I agree with you 100%.”
It wasn’t unanimous.
Don Banning said Iowa isn’t Castro’s problem. “Iowan here ... getting tired of candidates who have NO CHANCE of gaining the nomination piling on and blaming Iowa ... we have exactly six (6) electoral votes. SIX ... we are who we are ... we’re first in the nation CAUCUS ... that’s it ... don’t blame us for your failure!”
Castro is polling at 1 percent or less in many Iowa and national polls. He has laid off staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina, but plans to continue to campaign in Iowa.