At a campaign rally last month, Hillary Clinton announced Julian Castro as her pick for VP.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Castro, a rising star in the party, was chosen for his ability to reach white voters.
Castro is fluent in English and very comfortable with white Americans. “Hello,” he said in his first public address as the vice-presidential nominee. “I’m happy to be here with all of you today.” The crowd responded warmly to his introduction in their native language.
“What most people don’t realize is that Julian speaks excellent English. It will give him the ability to communicate with the white vote” said a source close to the nominee.
“Most people will be astonished at how comfortable he will be around them,” said communications aide Sally Vargas.
Castro gained his familiarity with the white community when he was born. He attended American public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. Later, he attended Stanford and Harvard universities. While there, he spent much time interacting and learning white culture.
Castro put this familiarity on display Wednesday at a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I just want to tell you all that I love you and I love mayonnaise-based salads. I mean, really, I ask for two servings of pea salad everywhere I find it.” The crowd roared with applause. “When I make a sandwich, it’s all white bread, no crust,” he continued, showing his intimate knowledge of white culture.
In an attempt to win the white vote away from her Republican rival, Clinton has been sending many of her most influential surrogates to reach out to them.
Another Clinton surrogate, Tom Perez, was sent out to Nebraska. Perez warmed up the crowd by establishing a familiarity with them. “French fries, am I right? Meatloaf! Yummy!” he exclaimed.
Perez then laid out the contributions of the white community: “When I think about all the great white people in the nation I’m reminded of your community’s gifts and talents. Michael Bolton. Rob Reiner. Carrot Top. Fred Durst. Beautiful, talented, whites.”
There was a misstep when former HUD secretary, Henry Cisneros, referred to the white community as “Caucasoids,” an older, anachronistic term that some find offensive.
Latino Millennial Outreach director for Clinton, Daisy Lopez, corrected Cisneros’ mistake, explaining “[Henry] comes from a different time. It wasn’t meant to offend anyone.”
Castro explained the campaign’s central goal in white voter outreach:
At the end of the day, the white vote doesn’t want to hear about policy. They want to hear English words. They don’t want to be listened to. They want to be talked about. They don’t want to know that politicians understand the issues they’re confronting. They want to know that we know the names of their foods. It’s what makes American democracy so rich.
[Follow 1stWorldChicano on Twitter @1stWorldChicano. He writes about race, politics, and popular culture through a Latino lens at Commentary and Cuentos.]
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