Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro confirms he is running for president

Castro would become the most high-profile Democrat to date to officially enter the 2020 race

"I am a candidate for president of the United States of America", he told the cheering crowd.

Until now only former congressman John Delaney has formally launched a campaign, more than a year ago.

"And the opportunities that made America, America are reaching fewer and fewer people", he said, flanked by his wife Erica and children Carina and Cristian in San Antonio's Plaza Guadalupe, among a crowd of a couple hundred people.

Castro was San Antonio's mayor for five year and USA housing secretary in President Barack Obama's second term.

Still, with progressive Democrats urging that the party try something different in its rematch against the Republicans and President Donald Trump, Castro - with a few breaks and hard work - could make a strong run. The Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard declared a bid on Friday. The impasse over a border wall that Trump made a central promise of his 2016 campaign has led to the longest government shutdown in USA history.

"Yes, we must have border security, but there is a smart and humane way to do it".

"We have the best candidate with the best ideas and the best heart", Joaquin Castro said. His twin brother, Joaquín Castro, is the Democratic congressman for Texas's 20th district.

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The Democratic field is starting to take shape even though the first primary elections are more than a year away. He has also visited Iowa and Nevada - two of the earliest primary and caucus states - in addition to publishing a memoir previous year, a common first move for future presidential candidates.

Castro and O'Rourke could join the likes of former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

But Castro, who has repeatedly dismissed talk that an O'Rourke candidacy would complicate his own chances, has framed the neighborhood and his upbringing as the story of an underdog.

Castro, whose grandmother was born in Mexico, has sought to use his family's personal story to criticize Trump's border policies - including criticizing the president by name in his launch speech. It wasn't long before Democrats nationally embraced him as a star in the making, particularly one from Texas, where a booming Hispanic population is rapidly changing the state's demographics and improving the party's fortunes.

The then-mayor rose to national prominence in 2012 when he was selected to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Two years later, President Barack Obama picked him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. From 2014-2017 he served as the HUD secretary under Obama, and was a top pick to be Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016 before Tim Kaine was tapped.

Castro launched an exploratory committee for a potential campaign on December 12, citing a platform built on opportunity, education, housing, health care, immigration and the environment.

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