Even lesser-known prospective Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls are already facing a withering barrage of criticism from the Republican establishment, foreshadowing a historically fierce and competitive campaign season as higher-profile potential nominees like former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris wait in the wings.
Former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — widely considered longshot candidates with relatively little name recognition — have also come under fire from the left in the days after they formally declared they would run, as Democrats hope to find a candidate who can realistically unseat President Trump.
“Julián Castro has made history by becoming one of the biggest lightweights to ever run for president,” Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement shortly after Castro announced his candidacy surrounded by reporters in his hometown San Antonio, Texas on Saturday. “He was a weak mayor who couldn’t even handle being HUD secretary. This is obviously just another desperate attempt to become someone else’s running mate.”
Castro, 44, was the mayor of San Antonio for five years before serving in the Obama administration for less than three. But the RNC, as part of a comprehensive response to Castro’s candidacy, has issued rapid-response documents pointing to contemporaneous reporting that has characterized Castro’s government service as wholly unremarkable.