Julián Castro said Sunday at South by Southwest that he is prepared to be president, and far better prepared than President Donald Trump.
In an interview at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen, asked the former San Antonio mayor and secretary of Housing and Urban Development, "Is that enough to take on the toughest job in the world?"
"What people want is somebody who knows how to be effective," said Castro, who said that those voters who thought that, with Trump, they were electing a businessman who could transfer those talents into getting things done, were wrong.
"He's clueless," Castro said of Trump.
"The president is a federal executive, that is also what a member of the Cabinet is," Castro said. "People who look at the record will see that I was effective at that, but I also have a compelling and inclusive vision for the future of this country."
"So yeah," Castro said of his experience. "It's more than enough."
Castro was one of six announced Democratic presidential candidates interviewed Saturday and Sunday as part of two days of Conversations About America's Future put together by the Texas Tribune as part of South by Southwest.
Polgreen also asked Castro if he had the foreign policy chops to serve as president in a world that is "on fire."
"I take these issues seriously," Castro said, noting that he had taken the time to travel and talk to leaders around the world.
He said that unlike Trump, "I will surround myself with people who deeply understand these issues and take their advice."
Castro said that is what Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, none of whom had a foreign policy background, did.
But with Trump, he said, "We have a president dedicated to golfing and 'Executive time,' which means watching Fox News."
Castro said he favored spending more on "smart" border enforcement, with more personnel and technology at the ports of entry.
Asked about calls to abolish Immigration and Customs enforcement, he said, "I favor breaking apart and reconstituting ICE."
"If what people mean when they talk about abolishing ICE is no enforcement, no, we're always going to have enforcement," Castro said. But if they are talking about "more humane" enforcement, then yes.
Castro talked about the recent controversy around Texas Secretary of State David Whitley — who doesn't have the votes to be confirmed by the Texas Senate — to cull the voter rolls of what his office originally claimed might be tens of thousands of non-citizen voters in Texas.
Whitley, Castro said, had to "totally walk that back."
"The effect of that is to send a signal, and now I’m talking about to people who can legally vote, just don’t entangle yourself with this government, don’t get out there, don’t go vote," Castro said. That’s the psychological impact.
"The first order of business when the Democrats take back the Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion is to undo all of his junk that they have done so people can exercise the right to vote," Castro said.
Also, noting that he is a twin, Castro said, " I have a brother, Joaquin, who is thinking about taking on (U.S. Sen.) John Cornyn," the Republican incumbent who is seeking a fourth term in 2020.
If he does, Castro predicted, "he will beat John Cornyn and be the next senator from the state of Texas."
Castro also talked about his support for reparations for slavery, an issue that he has seized, noting his differences with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who leads the polls among announced candidates. Castro said he would create a commission to explore the possibility of reparations and how it could be done, "because we’re never going to fully heal as a country from the racial divide until we’ve addressed the tremendous wrong that was done with slavery.”
Sanders recently said on “The View” that he wants to help communities that suffer from the legacy of slavery, but wouldn’t back monetary payments to the descendants of African-American slaves, because, “I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check."
"He has said that he doesn’t believe the answer is to write a check," Castro said. But, Castro said, "we need to be bold not only on getting universal health care and combating climate change but also be bold … on reparations. If we compensate people under the Constitution because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property, sanctioned by the state, or at least their descendants?"