Ed. Process determines outcomes.  On Nov. 10, 2019 former HUD Secretary Julián Castro made news when he called for a reordering of the Democratic primary schedule in future elections (press release below). A month later he participate in this important and fascinating discussion, moderated by Laura Belin, editor of Bleeding Heartland, which explored and elucidated the pros and cons of the current nominating process, where the first-in-the-nation states of Iowa and New Hampshire play an outsize role in the selection of the Democratic nominee (and actually both parties' nominees).  Periscope Video here

Former Sec. Julián Castro
First-in-the-Nation Town Hall
Drake University
December 10, 2019


LAURA BELIN: Thanks everyone for being here on such a cold night. When I see a room like this on a night like this I feel like we're having a rehearsal for February 3rd. But seriously it means a lot to see so many people out here to discuss this issue with each other and with Secretary Castro. Before we get into the groundrules of how the town hall is going to go, I want to first have the honor of introducing our special guest. 

Secretary Julián Castro was born and raised on the west side of San Antonio, the son of Rosie Castro, a prominent Mexican American civil rights activist. He and his twin brother Joaquin, who is now a member of Congress, representing San Antonio, were, went to their hometown's public schools before going off to Stanford and Harvard together. Secretary Castro was elected to the city council at age 26, the youngest in that city's history. And he became mayor at age 35 and at that time was the youngest mayor of a top 50 city and the United States. In 2012 he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. That was the same speech that put Barack Obama on the national map eight years earlier. And in 2014 President Obama asked him to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a department with a $48 billion budget and 8,000 employees that worked to expand housing opportunity for all Americans.

As a candidate for president, Julián Castro has focused on the needs of the most vulnerable, been a leader in the field on policy, and taken a number of bold positions, and those include the question of the role of Iowa and New Hampshire in our nominating process, which brings us here tonight.

Last month, he made news by being the first candidate to say out loud that Iowa and New Hampshire should not go first, sparking a national debate. And he purposely made that statement in Iowa and wanted to come here and talk with Iowans directly on why he stands by those comments. So I'm pleased to welcome Secretary Julián Castro. [applause]

A few words about the format. I am going to ask a few questions first, and then we'll open up the floor. I have not shared the questions I'm going to ask with Secretary Castro or with anyone associated with his campaign, and neither I nor Secretary Castro knows who in the audience is a supporter or opponent. We don't know what questions anybody is going to be asking. So the floor is really open and we're hoping to have a frank exchange of ideas.

So my first question is the, you know, Iowa is a small state and a state that's relatively inexpensive to campaign in. And doesn't it kind of make sense, in a sense to have a small state go first, so that the nominating process is pretty open and not just to the front runners who can raise a lot of money?

CASTRO:  First of all, thank you very much, Laura, for moderating tonight's event. And thank you to everybody for being here. It's great to see folks who are out here vetting the candidates as we head toward the Iowa caucus, which is only eight weeks away. Which I've said though, is eight lifetimes in politics.

If I can, let me just start off by, as I see it, why we're here tonight. For those of y'all who have been following the campaign, we've been marching to the beat of our own drum. We've been doing things a little bit differently from the other campaigns. I have been speaking truths and standing up for the most vulnerable people in our country.

I was the first to put out an immigration plan, to say that Donald Trump's cruelty doesn't represent who we should be as Americans.

I've been fighting so that we can reform our policing system in this country, even though most candidates won't touch that.

I visited a trailer park in Waukee, Iowa several months ago to talk to folks like Matt Chapman, who I think is here tonight, after they got a letter from a private equity group that had bought out the trailer park, and all of a sudden the residents got their rents raised more than 60%, including people like our Arletta Swain [phon.], who would lived there for four decades.

I've stood up and put forward a plan to make sure that we eliminate lead as a major public health threat in our nation after what we saw in Flint, and in other places across this country.

And I'm the only candidate that put forward a plan to revamp our nation's foster care system because too many young people who end up in our foster care system never get to graduate from high school, or they end up incarcerated; they don't get to reach their dreams.

And I see what we're doing here tonight is very much in keeping with two parts of this campaign. Number one, telling you the truth at a time when you have a president who won't. And then secondly, standing up for those who are often left out, those who are cast aside.

I'm going to tell the truth. It's time for the Democratic Party to change the way that we do our presidential nominating process, and we're going to have a conversation about that tonight. Part of the reason for that is that I don't believe that the two states that begin the process Iowa and New Hampshire are reflective of the diversity of our country or of our party.

Now, the Iowa caucus has existed as the first chance for people to vote since 1972. Our country has changed a lot since 1972. Our party has changed a lot since 1972. It's difficult, I think, impossible for us to tell black women for instance, then we're relying on them to help us win in 2020 after they've helped us so well in Louisiana and Alabama and other places, and then start in two states that have hardly have any African Americans at all.

To answer your question, Laura, there are some good things about Iowa and also New Hampshire. One of those things is that compared to having to campaign in a state like California or my home state of Texas, it is less expensive to do that here, right. You have less media markets, you have less ground to cover. And so there are certainly some advantages to starting off in Iowa and New Hampshire.

At the same time, some of those advantages, for instance the media markets, they get washed out because everybody raises their rates for advertising, you know, in Iowa and New Hampshire. And so it becomes almost as expensive, you know, to campaign in these states as it would to campaign in a bigger state simply because of the economics of advertising, the cost of that.

Also, there are different ways to think about the fact that you have a smaller state, but states with a lot less density than other states, right. For instance, for those of you all, I imagine we have people in the room who have been part of campaigning, one of the easy things to do in an urban environment is to go block walking—canvassing, door to door canvassing. There are relatively few parts of Iowa, where it's easy to cover a lot of ground in block walking or door to door canvassing compared to other places in this country. And so one of the things I've pointed out for instance, is that as we look at other states to consider to go first, we should look at the urban to rural sort of mix, right and pick a state that has a good urban to rural mix, I think in Iowa, that it actually tends to tilt toward a more rural, right, state. And the same thing in New Hampshire. You have one city, Manchester, that is basically you know close to Boston, the biggest city in the state.

I actually think that we can find places that represent that balance of urban and rural better than then these two states.

LAURA BELIN: I have been writing about, I've been critiquing the Iowa caucus system on my website, "Bleeding Heartland" since 2007. And sometimes I say being an Iowa Democrat who criticizes the caucuses is like how to not win friends and not influence people. But you took it a step further by saying that the Iowa caucuses shouldn't be first. So I commend you for coming here and talking to us about that. When I've had conversations about the deficiencies with the Iowa caucus with people over the years, so the first thing they say is this is the state that launched Barack Obama to the nomination in 2008. So it doesn't it show that even an overwhelmingly white state can give a fair shake to people of color, candidates of color.

CASTRO: People make a good point. Barack Obama won here in 2008. But we know that whether we're dealing with the presidential nominating process or anything else in life, right, one time, one exception does not prove the rule on anything. And I've been surprised at how many people have thrown away their logic when they argue this right. Sure, Barack Obama won here, but I think it's also true that neither New Hampshire or Iowa have ever sent a person of color to represent them to the United States Senate, for instance. And the idea is not that it can never happen, it's that it's a lot harder, it makes it more difficult, because the diversity that's represented in a lot of other parts of the country is not represented here.

The other point that I made very quickly is it's not just about racial and ethnic diversity. The Iowa caucuses you have pointed out and others have pointed out, is not set up to be very voter friendly.

What if I told you, what if we didn't know about the Iowa caucus, and I told you look, this is the way that voting is going to be set up. There's no early voting. You can only vote one time at seven o'clock on one night. If you're disabled or if you're a shift worker, and it's hard to get there at that time hey you can't vote by mail, you can't absentee vote. That's the only time that you can vote. You would probably think the Republicans came up with that system of voting. And you would say hey forget it, you know, these Republicans are out to get us again. They're not letting people vote. They're suppressing certain votes of, you know, people with disabilities or shift workers. That's what they have done and we have criticized them for that kind of activity. Well, we have to take a look at our own house.

And my point has been that we can construct our presidential nominating process in a way that actually reflects our values. This is about whether we're going to live by our values as Democrats who encourage more voting instead of limiting that voting. So even though we have had one exception in terms of a person of color getting elected, that doesn't mean that it doesn't make it harder for other candidates of color to get elected, and very importantly, for communities of color to elect their first choice candidate as well. It's not only about the candidates, it's about the communities as they're represented and who they get to actually vote.

And the consequence of that is that a lot of momentum is created by what happens here in Iowa. So that means that when we do get to the most diverse states after Iowa and New Hampshire, that those states actually have less people to choose from. You've already seen some candidates drop out of this race because of how they're doing largely in these two early states. You may well see more people drop out of the race. You certainly see people drop out of the race after Iowa caucuses. That means that so what if we have a Nevada, If you have a South Carolina, if you have California and Texas on Super Tuesday; they're not getting the same slate of candidates that Iowa gets and that New Hampshire even gets. That makes a difference. That's one of the reasons that we need to reorder the schedule.

LAURA BELIN: That leads into the last question I'm going to ask before turning it over to the audience members, the question of the barriers for participating in the caucuses. I mean, it's a huge issue that you've raised, shift workers, caregivers, people with disabilities. And I was very excited earlier this year when the Iowa Democratic Party came up with a proposal for a virtual caucus where there would have been six windows for people to call in during the week before and I thought, I expected tens of thousands of people to participate that way. As we know, the Democratic National Committee determined that that was not going to be secure. And you were the first candidate to release a statement when that happened, and you said that it was an affront to the principles of our democracy for the DNC not to allow the virtual caucus to go forward. And I was, I was also very disappointed by that. But Maggie Kurth published an article at 538 soon after that, where she quoted some cyber security experts who said it would have been an absolute hacking nightmare to have people calling in and registering their votes. And Is that a fair criticism when we know foreign governments are trying to influence our elections? Is it worth the risk to, to make caucuses available to people by phone?

CASTRO: Of course it's a fair criticism and during this era when we know that Russia, among others, may well be trying to influence our elections, but principally Russia, of course concerns about cybersecurity are valid.

My disappointment with what happened with that plan, the virtual caucus plan, is that it seemed like there was a lack of coordination. And I know, you know, I give a lot of credit to the Iowa Democratic Party. They're fantastically organized; I have no complaints. This is maybe one of the best organized Democratic parties of any of the states in our union. As you can imagine why, I mean, because everybody takes it as they should so seriously,; they invest the time and the energy and resources. But it was clear at the end that something happened there with the DN—with the Democratic National Committee, and they had originally seemed to indicate that they would accept that virtual caucus plan, and then they rejected it. The concern that they gave for cybersecurity is understandable. But my frustration was, hey, well, why wasn't this worked out ahead of time? Why are we just finding out when it's too late to go back and do anything about it to fix it?

And then they came back with a plan to do satellite caucus locations, and I understand that in a couple of weeks or a week or so we're going to find out what those satellite locations are. But even that doesn't match the ability that people need to be able to vote in another way at another time. You need to in the least, the Iowa caucuses needs to open up the ability of people to participate at different times, and essentially to have an early voting component to it. And not make people show up in one place at one time, and by the way, without a secret ballot, right, there's no secret ballot.

That means that let's say that you're an employee, and you show up and your supervisor's there at the same caucus, or the owner of your business, if you work for a small business.  And, you know, how do you feel if that person is passionate about a candidate, and they're saying, hey, come over here with me, you know. Because y'all, y'all have been to the caucuses, you know, how it is, people trying to convince one another to go and caucus for their candidate.

They're just, they're different concerns that I've had, and I had hoped that the virtual caucus would would also allow, frankly, mixed status families who may have one undocumented immigrant who lives in that house, but they also have folks who are able to vote especially in the Latino and Asian American community in this state, I had hoped that that would take their blood pressure down and make people more willing to go and participate in the process, because you got a lot of folks out there, right now, they don't want anything to do with anything that seems like the government or that they're going to be, you know, have to provide their their—or show up in front of everybody. And so the more that you can provide the intimacy of a secret ballot and their ability to participate that way, the more likely they're going to be to show up during this Trump era, especially. The virtual caucus would have been a little bit better than the traditional caucus at that. And now we don't have

LAURA BELIN: Regarding the satellite caucuses, the Iowa Democratic Party told me today that 173 applications were submitted for satellite caucuses. Those will have to take place at 7pm on Monday, February 3, and the committee hasn't met yet to go through those applications and sort them out. But in any case, I think it's clear that a lot more people would have been able to participate in a virtual caucus. So now we'll go to questions. Please try to keep it brief so we can get to a lot of questions we're hoping. Over there.

QUESTION: First of all, thank you, Secretary Castro for showing up tonight. Honored to ask this question to you. What do you believe is the most effective and cost efficient method of getting underrepresented communities registered to vote?

CASTRO: Thank you very much for the question. I actually believe that the states that have done automatic voter registration is the best way to get people registered to vote. [applause] We have a number of states that have done automatic voter registration. When somebody turns 18, they're automatically registered to vote. They don't have to sign out a card or even go online. We can accomplish that. States like Oregon and California, a number of others have already done that. And we pair it with pre-registration so that people who are juniors and seniors in high school are able to pre-register, so they're already in the mode of getting ready, getting prepared to become voters when they turn 18. I think if we do that, then what you're going to have is at least you'll have communities that often have not registered, automatically registered, and then you just have to concern yourself, whether you're Republican or Democrat or Independent, with turning those people out instead of also getting them registered to vote.

FOLLOW UP QUESTION: As far as I understand about automatic voter registration, generally, that's if you go to get a driver's license or some other government office. It's not, you know, they automatically register every person in the state, you know, once they turn 18.

CASTRO: Yeah, I think that there are a range of different ways of automatic voter registration with with the most progressive ones being when people turn 18. But even if you do it with somebody when they get their driver's license, right, that they automatically register when they get that driver's license, that's still registering a lot more people than the number of people who are registered in most states in this country, so I believe that we need to move in that direction of automatic voter registration and like I said pre-registration.

In the years to come I also think that we should move the voting age down to 17. Because the problem that we have right now is that when somebody is 18, if you think about it, they're actually kind of in a time of transition. Usually they've just graduated from high school when you're 18. And if you just graduated from high school, either you're in the working world, you're at a college or university or sometimes you're in the military. That's a time where you're doing something new. A lot of people have left home, right. They're not tied to the same social structure that they are when they're a senior in high school. If you allow them to get registered at 17, you can use the fact that they're part of our education system to, to create that spark of enthusiasm for actually participating and voting. Because even though people get registered, even when they get registered at 18 today, as y'all know, the actual participation rate for people who are 18 to 34 is a lot lower than it should be. Well, we can help change that, I think, by starting them off when they're actually part of the education system and you have your government or civic courses that year, you have people encouraging them to, to be registered, to start voting. That's a lot more powerful than waiting until they're off on their own, and you know, they'll get to it when they get to it and so forth.

QUESTIONER: Thank you.

LAURA BELIN: Somebody's going to come around with a microphone. Sorry, I forgot to announce that; there are a couple of people with roving microphones.

QUESTION: Hello, thank you very much for taking my question. While there are some things that I agree with you on and would push back to even say we should have 16 year olds voting so that we're capturing more of kids at that age. As the mom of a 17 year old, I would have been totally confident we're voting last year. I'm excited that you'll get to vote in the caucus. But I do want to push back as a Des Moines resident, and I'm a transplant to Iowa. So I grew up in New Jersey thinking that this was really dumb that Iowans got to vote first. And now that I have moved here, and seen many times, I think Bradley was my first caucus [Bill Bradley in 2000]. So I've been through several times of this process, and I've worked through the system.

I do want to push back that. First of all, that black and brown communities are not, I mean, I live in a black and brown community. I'm the minority in my neighborhood. And I like that, and I think that there are many people here who take the time to get educated on a wide variety of issues. And I, my push back for you is, what other state are you going to go to where there is the history and the people that understand policy. When I post about policy on Facebook, my friends back in New Jersey can't keep up with me because they're just not as well versed on the finer points of everything from education to family leave to all of these different things. So I think that that's another thing to consider when you're looking at like not just the affordability of of media, which is going to get priced out anywhere you go. But there's also hotel rentals and renting office space. Like Iowa's cheap. My house, I live here because my house is 10% of what would be back in New Jersey.

So I guess I want to push back to you on while nowhere is perfect, there is a lot. When I look at my daughter voting in this election, I know that she as a two year old wanted to go bang on doors for John Kerry and as a elementary school student was like shaming people at Obama headquarters because they weren't working as hard as she was. You know so there's a history that I think is important to recognize here in Iowa, that people are trained for this.

LAURA BELIN: The question for anyone who might not have been able to hear relates to Iowans really taking the role seriously and being more educated about the issues, and also the fact that black and brown communities do exist in Iowa even though we are a predominantly white state.

CASTRO: Yeah. I mean, you make a very good point that the people of this state take their role very seriously. That's one of things I appreciate about Iowans and all of the visits that we've made here, you're absolutely correct that people here know the issues better than people in most places in the country. They follow them. They go and they vet the candidates. I joke around that in most places you know, when, if somebody shows up at your event, it means they're they because they support you Here in Iowa means that you're like number nine out of 11 people that they're going to go listen to that month. [inaud. from audience] All of that is a great thing. It's great that Iowans and New Hampshire folks vet candidates well.

Here's the thing, though, I think that that would happen, I think that happens because you are first and because that that sort of muscle, so to speak has developed over the years. And I think that that would also develop in whichever state has the prominence and importance of setting the tone, setting the momentum for that race. Of course, people are going to take it a lot more seriously. You also going to take a lot more seriously because these candidates are actually coming to you, right. I mean, if you have an opportunity to see all the candidates and to meet them and feel like you're empowered to make a decision that's going to bolt somebody forward or you make sure your first choice candidate can win, of course people are going to put more time and energy into it. But I think that they would put just as much time and energy in it in another state if that state were to go first.

So what I actually believe should happen is that we should go forward with the DNC putting together a task force of people from around the country, the way that that happened before 1972. People from different backgrounds, different experiences and they should get together and create a system of rank ordering these states. Some of the things that I believe should go into that are, how reflective the state is of the diversity of the party and the country, the size of the state and how easy or expensive it is to campaign in that state. Also, if we say that our values are that we want to make it easier for people to vote, how easy do those states make it for people to vote? Is there early voting? Is there vote by mail, you know, how many voting locations do they usually have in most of their, their areas? We can come up with a, a thoughtful, effective way to rank order the states, and then you also give an incentive to actually get better about how accessible they make voting to people.

If we do that, then I believe that the presidential nominating process will, I think be fundamentally more fair to people who are voters out there and who want to be able to vote for certain candidates if their state is down the line and it's not first. I think it'll also be more fair to anybody who's running in future years. This isn't something that I'm calling for in 2020. Like I said the other day on the debate stage, somebody called for the December debate stage rules to be changed to allow some candidates to participate. I said, I'm not interested in that; you know, I'm not interested in changing the game in the middle of the game. I think that that's unfair to the people that are already there, the candidates. What I am interested in though, is changing for the future. And we have time at the DNC for that change to happen. And so that's what I hope will happen. [applause]

QUESTION: Hi Secretary Castro. I'm Dave Redlawsk. I'm a professor at the University of Delaware previously at the University of Iowa. I've written a book on the caucuses and in it says we should start in small states, maybe not Iowa, but this process works pretty well. I want to, I would say that your, your concerns this year in particular, would strike me as— would, would would be more persuasive to me if the polling suggested that in the more diverse states coming up, South Carolina, Nevada, that the order of the candidates wasn't essentially the same as it is an Iowa and New Hampshire, right. So Iowa Democrats in particular, for the research that I've done with my colleagues over the years, are a pretty liberal bunch, actually a very liberal bunch. This is not a conservative Democratic state on the Democratic side, and I think they reflect the ideology of the Democratic Party really well. So you're the question becomes, how much priority should be put on descriptive representation, how much should be put on policy representation or ideological representation, which I think in fact, the evidence is Iowa Democrats do a pretty good job of that?

LAURA BELIN: The question, that was David Redlawsk who has written a book about the Iowa caucuses, and he says that in especially this year that the order of the candidates the polling is very similar in the more diverse states that as to Iowa and that Iowa Democrats while they may not ethnically reflect the Democratic Party ideologically they do reflect the Democrats pretty well.

CASTRO: Yeah, no, thank you for the question. And you know, as you know, part of the history of the Iowa caucus was that originally it was intended as issues based system, not necessarily for candidates. And so we're dealing with an odd kind of fit for a candidate based structure to elect candidates when originally it was developed for issues, right? So that, there's a disjuncture there. But secondly, let me just challenge you a little bit on what the polls say in other places. I mean, the polls are very different for Joe Biden in Iowa versus South Carolina, right.

REDLAWSK: In the opposite direction of your point, though.

CASTRO: Well but stll, but remember, I said that it's also the ability of the people to elect their first choice candidate, right. And it's not mostly or only about the politicians. It's also the people as you know, for instance, when, when single member districts has come about in cities across the United States, the primary legal argument has not been about the politicians, it's been about the ability of, of usually people of color or protected classes to elect their first choice candidates. And so if we analyze it from that perspective, actually, there is a significant difference from Iowa to South Carolina, and there's also a difference, a growing one, I think, in Nevada. And I think that's going to be borne out when Nevada caucuses, you know, even though that's a caucus, and I actually believe that we should have primaries not caucuses, but, but there is a difference there.

Overall, though, in my vision for how we would do this in the future, we would take all of that into account. My point is that it's been almost 50 years. Do we believe that the country has changed enough in 50 years, that our party has changed enough in 50 years, that we owe it to ourselves based on our values, to go back and look in a thoughtful, analytical way at whether we should change this? I believe, yes. And you know, people can make their arguments as part of that process, and is there a chance that things would stay the same? Well, I would never, you know, I, I know that the Iowa and New Hampshire folks have been very, very good at, you know, keeping their status. So it's possible. But I actually think when folks dig deeper and they look at these different ways to analyze this, they're going to see that there's a, there's a better way to do this that is more reflective, I think of the country and of the party and would allow people to vote in their first choice candidates at a greater rate than the system that we have in place now.

In the very least, what Iowa needs to do is that it needs to clear up these obstacles to voting. There is no reason at all that you should only have one time with no early voting. That disadvantages people with a disability. It disadvantages people that have to work that night at seven o'clock, that that's when they work and they can just take off work to go do it. Um, it's also, this sounds mundane but It's true, I mean, you know, we're having this caucus in a place that has sometimes unpredictable weather in late January or February. What do we always say on election day, have you all heard over the years, right? Oh I hope it doesn't rain today, right? Because if it rains today less people are going to come out to the polls to vote. Well we're having our very first presidential voting opportunity, you know, in two places that tend to have bad weather during that time. That's not the biggest argument or most important one, but that's just another reason that I believe we need to look at, in total, how we do this and revamp it.

LAURA BELIN: I can just tell you that ever since, more than a decade ago, I started raising some of these concerns with Iowa Democrats, I was always told we could never do that. New Hampshire will never let us do that. The New Hampshire Secretary of State will never let us do anything resembling an absentee ballot or early voting or so on. And I think it's unfortunate.

CASTRO: And me say I've heard that argument also. Some people say, well, New Hampshire has this state law that says that they're going to vote first, they're going to have the first primary no matter what, well then the DNC, the DNC makes that decision. New Hampshire or any other state does not make that decision. And you remember in 2008 when Florida and Michigan tried to move up their their primaries earlier and what did the DNC do? It stripped them of any influence in the process. So when it comes to New Hampshire, I completely respect what they've done. What's so fascinating about New Hampshire is that they have even more of a cottage industry in media that covers this stuff than even Iowa does. I mean, it's amazing the, the environment over there. They take it seriously too. But if the DNC comes up with another process that is more reflective of our party and our country and New Hampshire decides to try and continue to be the first primary when they were not put as the first primary by that fair process, then take away their influence in the process like they did to Florida, Michigan.

QUESTION: Hi, I'm Samantha Bain, and I'm a student here at Drake University. Thank you for coming tonight and clarifying your comments. I was just curious about the fact that many billionaires have threatened to do commercials that would flood the state. Certainly we've seen a Tom Steyer commercial. And many candidates who have since dropped out have cited donors and polling as a reason that they have decided to no longer run instead of I don't even think, well I don't know, and so instead of Iowa and New Hampshire. So how do you respond to the idea that going to larger states will actually make harder for candidates without the bandwidth of multimillionaires and billionaires and without the name recognition to succeed?

LAURA BELIN: The question relates to whether going to larger states early in the process would advantage billionaires.

CASTRO: First of all, I agree with you on how troubling it is that you have folks that are basically able to buy their way onto the debate stage, buy their way up in the polling ranks. I don't, I don't know, ultimately, whether that'll be the deciding factor in terms of whether somebody wins. I don't think it will be. I think that, I think we need to get big money out of politics, right. We need a work-around around Citizens United. [applause]

We also need to tamp down the ability of people to just self fund their way into winning in this democracy. You know, I don't, I don't believe that America is looking for a billionaire savior right now. And so I don't think you know that's ultimately going to determine the outcome of this election. But I do agree that we should address it, find ways to address it. And with regard to your point about larger states versus smaller states, I think that should be a consideration; I absolutely believe that should be a consideration, that we should, as we analyze an updated version of the presidential primary process, we should consider okay, well, how much does it cost to campaign in this state, how big is the state and so forth. I just don't think that that should be, you know, the top or even the second most important part of the whole thing.

QUESTION: I would like to thank you for bringing up this important issue because it reminds us how important it is to have representation for people of color in the process. Most of the people that we've heard from of course are white; they do not want to give up power or the privilege that they have here in Iowa. And they're not taking into consideration the fact that yeah the Latino population here is very low, the number of African Americans here is very low. And so we do not have the chance here in Iowa, a fair chance to be able to select the candidates that will work for us, for people of color. So we have a lot of white saviors [applause] who feel that they still want to call themselves liberals, but they continue to vote or they don't want to give up that power. So I just would like to thank you for bringing that up. [applause]

LAURA BELIN: The question related to white privilege and thanking Secretary Castro for bringing that up because Latinos and African Americans in Iowa don't have that power and there are a lot of white people in Iowa who don't want to give up the privilege they have.

CASTRO: Well I'd say, you know, I wanted to bring this issue up because like I said, I think that it's an issue that needs to be discussed and that frankly, as y'all have seen, most candidates, when they're in the middle of this process, don't want to bring it up. And let me just be honest, I mean, you all have heard it Some people said, oh, well, you're gonna lose Iowa, you're gonna lose New Hampshire big, oh you're just bringing this up because it's sour grapes or—

First of all, no, it's not.

Secondly, you know let me point something out. I'm 45 years old. If it's catastrophe to bring this up, that means if I ever wanted to run again in the future, the same thing applies. So I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to bring this up. And I do, because it needs to be said, because we need to make a change that is reflective of the values that we have as a Democratic Party.

Let me also say that just because we change the process doesn't mean that we should elect somebody who is Latino or Latina or African American. What it means is we need to have just a process that better reflects the people who make up the party and the country. There are people who are running this race who are white that I think could do a fantastic job as president and also move us forward on issues of racial reconciliation, and improve the lives of people of color. That's not what this is about. It's not about guaranteeing an outcome. We never want to guarantee an outcome in our democratic process. But we want to empower people and make sure that everybody's vote. everybody's voice has the same weight in our country.

Republicans don't do that. They've spent the last 20-30 years trying to do everything that they could so that especially the votes of people of color are suppressed. Take away early voting on Sundays because they know that there's a preponderance of African Americans who after church will go and vote early on a Sunday, right. Enact things like voter ID. Or maybe the worst of it, gerrymander these congressional districts in ways that are beneficial to conservative candidates.

We want to be the opposite of that. And making sure that we look at our own house, that we make these changes is one more way that we can demonstrate to ourselves and to the American people that we actually stand up for equality and fairness for everybody. And then we elect who we elect. I don't think somebody should get elected just because they're black or Latino, or just because they're white. But I think that everybody ought to have a fair shot at making the case. And right now, the way that it's structured, not only is there not a fair shot, I don't think there's a fair shot for the voters themselves in this process. That's the most important thing.

LAURA BELIN: I want to say briefly before the next question that relating to minority representation in the caucuses. In a primary everybody's vote counts the same no matter where you live in the state. And in the caucuses the way the delegates are dispersed, it's an advantage to have support evenly spread across the whole state or large area and not support concentrated. Well in Iowa, more than 70% of the African Americans live in five counties and within Polk County, a large proportion of the African American community lives in like 10 census tracts. So what that means is the opportunity to influence the delegates for individual candidates is much more limited because the people of color are not spread evenly across the whole state of Iowa and it's an issue when you start talking about caucuses versus primaries. Okay, there.

QUESTION: My name is Emily Ewing, and my pronouns are they them theirs, and I am glad to hear you talk. I am a transplant to Iowa as a pastor. And one of the things that our congregation cares a lot about is ministry with people whose loved ones are in prison and incarcerated. And one of the things that our governor has said that she would like to change but has not actually made the changes on is restored rights for people once they leave incarceration who have been convicted of felonies. And so I think I know where you stand on this. But I'm curious. You've been talking a lot about making it easier for people to vote. And that's a huge thing that would increase a lot of voting in Iowa.

CASTRO: Yeah, and thank you for, you know, asking that question. I absolutely believe that we need to allow people who have served their time to be able to vote, I actually believe that we should allow some people who are incarcerated right now to be able to exercise that right to vote. [applause] I hope that the governor follows up on that, and that the legislature will also work toward a day when formerly incarcerated people have a chance to vote. We know that throughout history that those kinds of laws were basically used to suppress especially the votes of African Americans in this country, and especially in the South. You see that all over the place. I was very happy in 2018 when Florida passed that Proposition 4, which now you see what happened with that. The Republican governor has gone out of his way to try and subvert it, to not allow that to actually go into full effect. In Texas, in my home state of Texas, one of the things that I should I think should be a first priority like it should be here when Democrats regain power in the legislature and the governor's mansion is that we make it easier for people to vote, to exercise that franchise. And methodically, as methodically as they have been about taking it away in little ways and in big ways, you've got to go back and, and make sure that you expand it. And that's one way we can do it.

QUESTION: Thanks so much for being here, Secretary Castro. On the topic of our party being the party that pushes for voting rights for everyone, Washington DC has more people than Wyoming and Rhode Island and does not get a voice in Congress. Puerto Rico would be the 29th largest state and does not have voting rights in Congress. We have [inaud.] that we continue to treat like colonies. What would your policy be on the way we interact with the people who are part of our country who are not given voting rights?

LAURA BELIN: The question related to DC statehood and Puerto Rico statehood.

CASTRO: Yeah, well, I absolutely believe that they should have real representation in Congress, a vote in Congress. And with regard to Puerto Rican statehood, you know, I traveled to Puerto Rico. That was my first visit after I announced in January,. As President, I would support a binding referendum to determine, you know, where the Puerto Rican people have the opportunity to determine for themselves this time in a binding way, whether they're going to be a state or not. You know, I hope that in the years to come, that Puerto Ricans will have that ability to self determine.

When it comes to Washington, DC. I think that in Washington, DC that that has been less controversial, that people have expressed the willingness and the and the desire to become a state. And you know, I think that if that's the desire, that they should have the opportunity to do that. However, that's done, with a binding referendum and so forth, but that they have the ability to do that, if that's what they want.

For all of the territories, and DC and Puerto Rico, they need to have a stronger voice in Congress. Because what we have set up right now is almost, it's a throwback, you know, to treating them as lesser than, and we can't do that anymore. We see in Puerto Rico after— we saw in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, for instance, the impact of that, when you have a president that basically treated Puerto Rico as an afterthought, and didn't live up to the obligations that the federal government should have lived up to, and because of that, a lot of people have suffered. We need to change that.

QUESTION: Hi, Secretary, my name is Taylor. So I'm speaking as someone who is an HIV advocate, and I've met a lot of people who, you know, they haven't even come out for 25-30 years about their status. And so I'm just being devil's advocate here. So if someone goes to caucus, about issues that they care about, sometimes there's a stigma associated with the things that they want to speak about. And so it's almost like their voice might be suppressed in that way. So I'm just, I just wanted to hear your take on I guess, what you think, on the caucus and how we could kind of help that issue.

LAURA BELIN: The question related to marginalized voices in the caucus and whether people might feel inhibited or suppressed for speaking out.

CASTRO: Well, yeah. I mean, I think the way that it's set up right now because people have to declare themselves in front of everybody. A lot of people they, I mean, all of us, right. How many times are we trained growing up, like you don't talk about politics, you know? Just don't, don't rock the boat, you know, don't ruin dinner, don't whatever, whatever. You know, you don't want to do that. Maybe that's why that there's only a 16% turnout rate is because you have to go declare yourself in front of everybody you know. And, and you know that folks are really passionate about it and trying to get you to support another candidate. Certainly, if you're there, and you're concerned about an issue that is controversial, or that you believe, or in fact does have a stigma associated with it. Yeah, I mean, I have no doubt that that can make people less likely to participate.

Same thing with what I mentioned, with the fear that some folks who come from mixed status families have about showing up and thinking, well, this is going to entangle me more in what the government is doing, and if somebody doesn't like the way that I'm voting, they're going to know how I'm voting and are they going to take, you know, are they going to take some sort of action, some retribution against me because I was supporting this candidate instead of the candidate that they wanted. I mean, how many times have we seen on video over the last several years? You know you have these people videos where somebody saying I'm going to call, you know, I'm going to call Homeland Security on you or I'm going to turn you in, to people that are American citizens, right? But that's the attitude that too many folks take.

 Let me be clear. I'm not saying that people in the caucus do that. What I'm saying is that right now in this Trump environment, people are afraid to show themselves, even American citizens that have every right to exercise their right to vote. And having a system that is secret ballot, I think actually allows them to do that more comfortably and would increase turnout versus a system where you got to show yourself.

LAURA BELIN: I absolutely remember as precinct captain before the 2004 caucus talking to people who felt inhibited. They weren't even from marginalized communities. But they— I remember one woman in particular, she felt bullied at her 1988 caucus and she said, I'm never doing that again. So if there had been an opportunity for her to cast a secret ballot, she would have participated.

Representative Abdul-Samad.

QUESTION: Thank you.

First of all, thanks for being here. You know, certainly, we can always twist numbers around and make it so we can get our point across. You know, because when we talk about, especially when you mention about black women, and how we get them to, you know, give them about electing people in this country,. We also understand that if it was for black women and they were getting the vote, Stacey Abrams now would be the governor. [applause] Let's be clear.

So one of the things that we also look at is that with Iowa being the first caucus state, we have a voice to help put that in, you know, get that out for people in the country, because it's not just sending the first African American out of Iowa, but we also sent the first woman, you know, out of Iowa. So that shows us getting together and being able to bring individuals together, not only in urban but rural communities, that we were able to then send the message to the country to deal with its ills.

Because I'm not sure that the caucus is the problem. I think the problem, the problem is the ills that we refuse to deal with and deal with the reality, the racism, the phobias. You know, because what stops with Latinos from voting isn't the caucus, it's gerrymandering. What's stopping the blacks and Latinos from voting isn't the caucus, it's racism. And so you have other cities, other states that are predominantly people of color that can't elect officials of color because of those issues. So changing the caucuses isn't going to resolve the issue. You know, dealing with the ills resolve the issues, and when we look at especially you pointed out that we haven't elected a person of color and this type of thing. Then we got to look at how many senators do we have in this country—that does not represent people of color in this whole country. You know, when we look at Congress, does not represent people in this whole country. You know, those are the things I think we need to focus in on, you know, and I think when individuals begin attacking the caucus, you know, to me I have to ask is there an underlying message there rather than dealing with the actual issue at hand? Because one of the things that doesn't stop Latinos from voting, or people or color or women, you know, man. We look at the fact that education, the disparity in education, the disparity in medical and medical care, we have so many disparities, the caucus where is that even fitting in solving our issues? You know, because if we're here and we hold the first caucus in Iowa, we're sending a message.

And I also will say that there's a documentary called "Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard"
that I really wish you woud listen to, because Iowa was the first to train black soldiers. Iowa disaggregated its schools before Brown versus the Board of Education. Iowa took the first to make sure that an individual could not be sold or held as property. Iowa has been the first before other states could even get it passed. And we find that in larger states, they even have more problems than we have, a lot more problems and picking you know, someone you know, Boston and that type of thing, that that's good when you're comparing the city to a state.

So my question to you is that when we look at the real issue, because you say a truth to power, and we said we want to speak the truth, when we look at the real issue, is the caucus the real issue, or are tthese ills the real issue? And have you brought the focus to be able to stop the Republicans and even Democrats from dealing with the real issue that we face of people of color? [applause]

LAURA BELIN: The question, State Representative Abdul-Samad, the related to is criticizing the Iowa caucuses not getting to the real issue, which is systemic racism and other bigotry. And that's what we need.

CASTRO: Yeah, thank you very much for the question. I think that I've addressed those issues more bluntly and boldly than anybody else in this campaign.

Let's take for instance, the issue of police brutality. I'm the only candidate during the course of this campaign who is not only put forward a plan for how to change that in America, but hasn't been afraid to stick on that, to continue to highlight that issue, to name the names of people who've been the victims of police brutality, and also to say that we should change our system in different ways so that people don't experience that no matter the color of their skin or where they live. right.

Another issue has been the issue of immigration. I was the first one to put forward an immigration plan in this whole campaign, right. And why is that? Because a lot of the candidates frankly are scared, because they think that Donald Trump has the upper hand on an issue like immigration, because they think that when a lot of people hear a candidate talking about being compassionate toward immigrants, that, that voters, some voters are going to run the other direction. And you know what? I don't believe that. I believe that the best way to handle that issue is to be straightforward and fearless about it. And I've been that.

In fact, I think that during the course of this campaign, I've addressed issues of racial justice more forthrightly than any other candidate that is running in this campaign. And I'll continue to do that. I've done that on education, on housing, on police brutality, on immigration, on working families— across the board. So we've had a whole conversation since I, since I launched this campaign,and even before when I was HUD secretary, I led the effort that made the most significant steps to further desegregate our communities than ever before with something called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. When I was mayor San Antonio, we passed a groundbreaking non-discrimination ordinance to try and ensure that no matter somebody's gender identity or sexual orientation, that they could be treated the same; they wouldn't be treated like second class citizens.

So I've been doing the work before in public service, and also during the course of this campaign that addresses those underlying issues. At the same time, I don't think that it serves anybody to stay quiet about the structure of our elections. Because if we say, well, let's just, you know, or let's, well you don't have to really do anything about the Iowa caucus. Well, then do we have to do anything about the fact that that that Secretary of State in Georgia dumped so many people off of the roles, and that's the reason that Stacey Abrams is not the governor of Georgia today. In other words, you know, we need to address that, you know, we know we do also address this. This isn't the extent of what I've addressed in this campaign, but I'm not going to shy away from addressing it either.

 I agree with you that over the years Iowa has made a lot of good things happen, right. And I've had a wonderful experience with the people here; like I have nothing but good things to say about the people here. Everybody has been nice; they've been wonderful. We've been well received in the state. But I do think that there is something lost when you come to two states in Iowa and New Hampshire that don't have the same level of diversity that you have in a number of other states, and that it's time in the least even if people even people disagree with that, don't you think that it's time that we relook at that, that how we order our presidential nominating process?

Fifty years. I mean, it's been almost 50 years. In 2024, or 2022, it'll be 50 years since we did this, I think that every 50 years in our democracy, you know, when our country has changed so much, and our party has changed so much, that it's worth taking a look at. And I believe that when we look at it, if we're true to our values, we're going to say yes, we can make an improvement. And that's what I hope we do in the years to come. [applause]

QUESTION: Thank you. And Secretary Castro, thank you for being here. My name is Vicki Brown and being an African American and Black Hawk County, Waterloo, one of the largest African American communities, we do have a lot of disparity, but I would like to say this, that Iowa voters actually, mine is more of a statement than a question, okay?

I just like to keep it real. Iowa voters, you know, we get to see the candidates up close and personal and it's a good litmus test because people are looking at us. Iowa can be as progressive as it can be conservative. And if it wasn't for the caucuses, we would be a deep red state, just like Nebraska. And I'm not looking forward to that.

Now I've seen a lot in my lifetime, I've done a lot in my lifetime, and I intend to continue to fight this good fight. We are going to continue to go forward. I would like to help elevate the voices to make sure that Iowa caucuses does matter, and we will continue to caucus. Thank you so much for letting me make that statement. [applause]

CASTRO: Thank you very much.

LAURA BELIN: The statement reflects something I've heard from a lot of Iowa Democrats, that if we didn't have the caucuses we'd be a deep red state, I mean, some people will tell you that Tom Harkin was able to win his first U.S. Senate race in 1984 because of all the organizing that happened before the caucuses earlier that year,

CASTRO: You know that, then that may be, first of all, thank you very much, Vicki, for being here. And thank you for your great leadership as part of the Black Hawk County Democrats, you know I've had wonderful visits there in Waterloo.

That, that's probably true. You know, I do think that there's a, because you have both parties competing for the votes here, at least every four years, you know, more often than that, in all of the other races that happen, that may well be true. I haven't seen any analysis of that. But that seems to make sense. And I think that should be considered. But I also don't believe that that should be the main reason that we start our whole presidential nominating process in one state or another. In fact, if we're going to do it that way, why don't we go to Cali—I mean to Texas, which is a red state now, but we could get those 38 electoral votes, if we would just, you know, we would make Texas our first nominating state. You know, that's 38 electoral votes.

It's that what I think it shows is that people take it very seriously, and I recognize that. I mean, y'all have been fantastic. The number of people who vet the candidates, who pay attention is impressive. But I believe that, again, that, you know, the lack of diversity, and the way that the caucus is structured and makes it harder for people to participate, and that we've seen that in the numbers of people that participate. I mean, overall, the number of people that participate in the caucus is nowhere near what you get in the most contested primaries in the nation or certainly in the general election, right.

And I think two things are true. Number one, we need to reorder our primary process. But secondly, if Iowa keeps its caucuses in the future, you know if they intend to stick with a caucus instead of a primary, then access issues and early voting issues and these other issues that go with the electoral reform should be addressed in the state of Iowa.

Again, I you know, I said this and maybe you know, I sounded facetious, but I'm serious. That if I told you, if you didn't know anything about this process, and I told you how it was set up, you would think that a right wing Republican set this process up, because it really makes it harder to vote than it should be. There's no reason to do it even if you, even if you were to keep your first in the nation caucus status, there is no reason to make it this difficult compared to other ways for people to be able to vote. I mean, it needs significant change. And that's just the truth. You know, whether I'm running for president, or you never hear my name again. That's the truth. All right.

QUESTION: Hello, my name is Mary [inaud.] and I'm a senior at Urbandale High School. And you mentioned this in passing earlier, but why do you believe we should have primaries instead of caucuses?

LAURA BELIN: The question was about why are primaries better than caucuses in Secretary Castro's view.

CASTRO: Yeah, so thank you very much for the question; thank you for being here. And Laura was good about this, some of the particulars, and you know this very well, I think, better than anybody. There's often a difference in the way that essentially support is tallied in caucuses versus primaries. In primaries it's just a straight up, people go and vote, and the person that gets the most votes, they win. In caucuses here and in Nevada— I think, by the way, there are only three states that still have a caucus,cright.

In caucuses, there's actually a formula for how those votes are allocated, how support is allocated across the state. So it's not as simple as whoever gets the most votes wins. As Laura pointed out, there are different ways that geographically if you get more support just in one area, like let's say you do great in Des Moines, but you don't do very well in the rural areas; somebody that just does okay in Des Moines and then does okay throughout the state uniformly, like they have support throughout the state can do better. That intersects with okay. You know, you have an African American population, a Latino population, Asian American population that tend to live in the big city and a few other places in the state, not as much in the, in the rural areas, totally rural areas state. So caucuses are done differently.

Also, caucuses tend to be like this one where there's not long early voting periods. You show up on one night or in Nevada they do it where there is kind of a form of early voting, but it's not that extensive, right. It is a better system, I think, than Iowa but, because it allows for more opportunity to vote, but it's not as extensive as a primary would be.

LAURA BELIN: Let me just say, an example I like to give from 2016 is that Iowa and Connecticut have roughly the same size of electorate, like around 2 million voters. And the Iowa caucuses with dozens of visits by the candidates and dozens of field offices and hundreds of campaign staff scouring the state, we had about 171,000 Democrats participate in our caucuses in 2016. In the Connecticut primary, which was after 36 states that already voted, after Hillary Clinton had basically locked down the nomination, they had 322,000 people participate in their primary. And Hillary Clinton did one event there and Bernie Sanders did zero. So it just shows you that even without a massive mobilization, it's so much easier for people to vote in a primary.

...see you over there.

QUESTION: Okay, hi, I'm Jacob. I'm a long lifetime Iowa resident here so I've grown up—I'm also a Drake student, I should clarify that—so I've also grown up going through the whole caucus process. So there's a couple things that I want to point out. First thing I think, is Iowans, and it's been, I think, really echoed through this whole crowd tonight is that we as Iowans really pride ourselves on our caucus process.

I think personally, something that's really cool about the Iowa caucus process is that it allows for an engagement, a conversation that you don't get anywhere else. That's something that we as Americans struggle to do as it begins with. And I think as Iowans that's something that we, like you said, you know, you go to most states and you're like, okay, everybody here is here to support you, everybody. Here you might be ninth on their list, right, like you said, but we go to our caucuses, and that's what's so cool is we're coming together and we're saying, yeah, we're going to stand in our group. I'm here for Castro. And I'm gonna say, this is why I like Castro; this is why I think you should like Castro. And then Buttigieg's guys and Warren's guys and everybody else, they're going to say this is why I think you should come and vote for us. You're not seeing that. How is it that a primary is going to help us have a similar system to that so we can have those conversations that a primary will not necessarily give us those conversations?

And then a quick question to kind of add to it in a way is you also mentioned earlier the fact that you discussed extending voting age to as young as 17 and 16. From my history and what I've known, yes, our political system is taught in our schools, but also a lot of students choose not to concern themselves with American politics and would rather vote off of what their parents are saying or off of just blindly not doing actually any research. So how would you address, excuse me, something like that, or even relating it back into caucusing; how would you allow them a fair chance to caucus as well?

LAURA BELIN: The question related to the community building aspects of caucuses, and the fact that it's a neighborhood meeting and conversations happen and people have a chance to advocate for their candidates?

CASTRO: Yeah, I certainly think that there's some positive aspects of the engagement that happens with this process. The fact that folks are passionate about their candidates, that that night, you know, they they articulate why they support those candidates. There's also a flipside to that right that we're talking about, about the fact that there are a lot of people who may be intimidated by that. They don't want to have to declare in front of everybody, whether it be their neighbors or their supervisor that may be the same caucus site, whoever it is, they don't want to have to declare publicly who they're supporting. And that, I believe that that might be one of the reasons that you have such a low turnout rate is because most people, if they pay attention to politics in the first place, they're even less likely to go and stick their neck out if they have to go in front of everybody in a very contested room, where people are very passionate about, hey, why aren't you supporting my candidate? I think that actually makes people less likely versus a secret ballot to go and cast their vote.

Now, the question is, how can we encourage those kinds of conversations to happen not just on one night, but along the way, right? We need to get better as candidates also about making sure that we're visiting as many states as possible. I made a pledge, for instance, at the beginning of this campaign to visit all 50 states. And we've been trying to—I think we're somewhere near 30 states so far, right. So I recognize that you shouldn't just go and visit one state all the time, but you should try and get different people from different states engaged in the conversation.

With respect to young people, I know that we have a turnout issue with young people. The turnout among people 18 to 34 years old is, is very low compared to people over the age of 65. I want to do something about that. I do think that moving the voting age to 17 would help do something about that, especially if we reinvigorate civics education in our schools. And I think that's something that Republicans and Democrats so far at least can agree on, that we should invest in more civics education in our high schools, so that people fully understand their role in furthering our democracy, right, and that they're empowered to do that. If you partner that up, boosting civics education with moving the voting age to 17, or even if you don't move the voting age to 17, if all of the states do pre registration for 16 and 17 year olds so that they can they get registered to vote, when they turn, as soon as they turn 18, that's a way that we can ensure that young people are more informed, more concerned and oriented toward being participants actively in the democracy. And they're going to take it seriously and be more likely to actually go cast a vote.

LAURA BELIN: And we have time for one more question. Is there somebody over there or two? There are two more.  Can you keep it, can you keep it brief, the question, please.

QUESTION: Hi Secretary Castro. First I just want to say I knocked almost 200 doors for Chelsea Chism-Vargas [candidate for Des Moines City Council in the Nov. 2019 election]. So I want to thank you for your endorsement of her. [applause]  She's a young, progressive Latina and we need more of us in politics.

And the second thing I want to touch on is you've talked about how the caucus is very exclusionary. It's held at night, it can be hours long, exclusionary to parents, the working class, students even. And the University of Iowa and Iowa State have both released statements saying they won't be canceling classes for the caucus. And I was wondering if you will condemn Iowa schools that don't cancel the caucuses [classes] for students to participate in the democratic process?

LAURA BELIN: The question was about Iowa universities that are not canceling classes on February 3 for the caucuses.

CASTRO: Look, I think condemn— I won't start off my statement by saying that I condemn the University of Iowa or Iowa State. But I will say that I would encourage Iowa State and the University of Iowa and all of, we're going to be at Grinnell tomorrow, and all of the other institutions of higher education that have a lot of 18 year olds and people that are eligible to vote. Lock, this is another example. Why in the world f you're especially a public state university, would you not allow time for your students to be able to go out caucus and not miss class? This is what I'm talking about y'all. It doesn't make any sense; it does not make any sense.

And, in my mind, the values that we have as Democrats, of allowing as much access to the voting booth as possible, are getting further and further away from the reality of the Iowa caucus. And when you have decisions like that, to not allow students to actually go and caucus, that it just makes it harder to keep the caucuses here. And so they should do that; I hope that they revisit that decision.

I also think that employers should allow their, like a lot of employers in many places on Election Day, they'll allow their employees to go and cast a vote that day. I believe that employers, more employers should be willing to allow their employees to go and caucus that night if they're shift workers that have to work. I think about, we were, qe were in Ottumwa today, right. We were in Wapello, we were in Wapello County today. We were actually Wapello city yesterday. We're in places where there are John Deere factories, right, and other manufacturing in this state. I think about all the people and that it's difficult if they're working a shift that night for them to just take off and go caucus. So yes, I will say that I'd encourage the University of Iowa and Iowa State to allow their students to go caucus by not having classes during that evening of February 3rd.

LAURA BELIN: one last quick question.

QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Castro. I just wanted to ask about— so I think one of the things that, as compelling as your argument seems to be, I think one of the things that dissuades me from from it is that when you look at polls in say, South Carolina or Nevada, and I think this was brought up earlier by the professor, it's the same. I mean, take Kamala Harris, for instance, who unfortunately dropped out of the race. Um, let me ask you this. Do you think that if she, if South Carolina had gone first, do you think that she would not have dropped out? I because I come to this thinking that, I don't think that Iowa being first caused an incredible candidate like her to drop out. I don't think that that was the issue at hand. A lot of people have pointed out that in many ways that the voters in South Carolina thought that it would be okay to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because they saw him win in Iowa previously. So what does that say about the way in which we choose a state to go first? If we look at the polls right now, it doesn't seem like choosing one of those states to go first the state, the state that's more diverse, makes much of a difference.

 CASTRO: Well, I mean, I take your argument, but I think that if we accept that argument, which is basically that the diversity of the state doesn't make a difference, does the diversity of a company make a difference? Does the diversity of university make a difference? Does the diversity of a newspaper or media outlet make a difference? To say that it doesn't make any difference in this context, I believe is basically to say that no company, university, no media outlet, televisino and film, also shouldn't have a responsibility to evaluate the diversity of their enterprises. If we're not even going to make the effort to ensure that our democracy itself reflects our country's diversity and our party's diversity, why should the private sector do that? And, you know, I don't know if any one candidate in this election would be doing better if another state were going first. But I do believe that overall, and in the long term, absolutely you would have different outcomes if different states went first and second versus tenth or fifteenth.

You know, I don't believe that all of a sudden everything is going to change just because you move it to a different state. But over time, I do think that that's true. And the other thing that voters in states that come later have in mind is they think well, what's happening here in the polls in Iowa, because they're going to go first. And so I may love this candidate, but look they don't have a chance over here. So you know, what's going to happen? When Barack Obama won, part of that was proving that he could win in Iowa, right; that's what gave him more support down the line. But again, one person's ability to do that at one moment in time does not disprove that there's an issue here. That's the only time it has happened, and I think that there's some natural disadvantages to going in states that don't reflect the diversity of our party and our country.

LAURA BELIN:  I want to thank everyone again for coming here and thank Secretary Castro for answering the questions, and also well played to avoid the headline of Julián Castro condemns the University of Iowa. [laughter, applause]

CASTRO: Let me just say a huge thank you to you. And, look you know, we're coming to the end of this process before the caucus. And I just want to say thank you to everybody who's been a part of it, again, for how seriously y'all do take it, and for helping to ensure that we have an active democracy. The fact that y'all are here, even if we disagree tonight, the fact that y'all are here, you're participating, you're making sure that we think about these issues, whatever happens with it. That's something for all of us to celebrate as Americans who want a stronger country, and as a party, who care about making sure that we live by our values, and that we celebrate the ability to participate, everybody's ability to participate. Thank you all for being a part of that. Allright. [applause].


Julián for the Future
For IMMEDIATE Release: Sunday, November 10, 2019 
Contact: Sawyer Hackett, National Press Secretary

Julián Castro Calls For Reordering of Democratic Primary Schedule

Secretary Castro calls for primary schedule that's reflective of our nation's and party's diversity
IOWA CITY, IOWA (November 10, 2019) – On Sunday, November 10 while campaigning in Iowa City, Iowa, presidential candidate, former Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julián Castro called for a reordering of the Democratic primary schedule to reflect the diversity of our country.

Asked by guest host Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC's Kasie DC about the order of the Democratic primaries, Secretary Castro noted:

"I actually believe we do need to change the order of the states because I don't believe we're the same country we were in 1972. That's when Iowa first held its caucus first, and by the time we have the next presidential election in 2024, it'll have been more than 50 years since 1972. Our country's changed a lot in those 50 years.

"The Democratic Party's changed a lot. What I really appreciate about Iowans and the folks in New Hampshire is that they take this process very seriously. They vet the candidates, they show up at town halls, they give people a good hearing.

"At the same time, demographically it's not reflective of the United States as a whole, certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party, and I believe that other states should have their chance.

"So yes, of course, we need to find other states--and that doesn't mean that Iowa and New Hampshire still can't play an important role, but I don't believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first, and that's the truth of the way I see it."