No Pardon for Trump, Julian Castro Says at First New Hampshire Stop as Presidential Candidate

SOMERSWORTH, N.H. — At his first campaign stop in New Hampshire since formally jumping into the presidential race, Julián Castro said Tuesday night that if he wins, Donald Trump shouldn't expect a pardon for misdeeds likely to be exposed in coming months."I would not be inclined to issue a pardon, because I don't think that anybody should be above the law," Castro said, drawing enthusiastic cheers from the hundred or so Democratic activists who turned out to meet Castro and take his measure--a good crowd for a Tuesday night a year before the primary.Castro has framed his campaign in upbeat terms, vowing to attack income inequality and climate change. But halfway through Trump's term, Democrats hunger for a champion who can push the president from power and Castro obliged, hitting the president as unethical and badly misguided on immigration and a host of other issues.A housing secretary under former President Barack Obama, Castro launched his 2020 bid on Saturday in San Antonio, where he grew up and served as mayor."Many of us have watched over the last 18 months and we wonder, how did we fall this far from the leadership that President Obama offered to what we have in the White House today," Castro said.When it came time for questions, Kathleen Soldati, whose son owns the tea house that hosted Castro in Somersworth, asked from the front row whether the Texan would look to Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon after Watergate for guidance in how to deal with Trump.Castro's response suggested that it's something he's considered."I think that the next president is going to have to make probably going to have to make a decision like this about about president because one of those investigations, whether it's the Mueller investigation or it's in the Southern District of New York, is going to present the issue of punishment. That's what I believe," he said. Ford came in for criticism after pardoning Nixon, though some people felt it was the right decision to help the country get past the scandal. Dealing with the trauma inflicted by a disgraced president, Castro said, "is a tougher question than just a response of `hell no we're never going to do something.'" But "I still believe on balance that we need to show in this country that nobody's above the law."Views of the current president are dim among Democrats in New Hampshire, as elsewhere, so such comments went over well."Trump? Not a big fan," said Otto Frankowski, 24, an engineer at a company that makes metal tools and which has suffered under Trump's tariffs. "Everybody's against Trump. We want to know what they're going to do," said state Sen. David Watters, who represents Somersworth.Watters said immigration policy is a big concern in his district. Roughly 1,200 refugees from Indonesia live in the area, mostly Christians who fled persecution, and in the last year, federal immigration authorities have targeted hundreds, spurring a local outcry. "We want a path to citizenship. We want to respect asylum and refugee requests," he said.Castro hit Trump hard on immigration, as well. "We need to stamp out the narrow minded fear and paranoia and scapegoating and division that has been a part of this administration," he said. "We can have border security and we need to do it the smart way....Not building a dumb wall. Not putting babies in cages. Donald Trump has violated some of the most sacred values and ideals of this nation."Castro's event Tuesday night officially kicked off a courtship aimed at breaking from a huge pack of Democrats angling to take on Trump.Most candidates head first to Iowa or New Hampshire. He went to Puerto Rico, an unusual detour that provided the chance to meet with Latino leaders from around the country and to highlight complaints about Trump's mismanagement after hurricanes devastated the island in 2017.In the early going, Castro has framed his campaign as a progressive crusade that would yield universal access to Medicare and prekindergarten, an end to income inequality and police violence against African-Americans, and a frontal assault on climate change that includes cutting off subsidies for the oil industry.New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced an exploratory committee Tuesday on Stephen Colbert's late night comedy show, as Castro had done a few weeks earlier.  Continue reading...

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