AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro isn’t ruling out direct payments to African-Americans for the legacy of slavery — a stand separating him from his 2020 rivals.
“If under the Constitution we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property,” the former Obama-era housing secretary and ex-San Antonio mayor said on Sunday.
Castro was among the last of a pack of 2020 candidates to speak at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas, in what amounted to one of the biggest gatherings of the Democratic field yet.
As Democrats have addressed reparations in the early stages of the race, other candidates are discussing tax credits and other subsidies, rather than direct payments for the labor and legal oppression of slaves and their descendants. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would put resources such as “Medicare for All” and tuition-free college into distressed communities.
Castro tells CNN’s “State of the Union” he doesn’t think that’s the proper argument for reparations if “a big check needs to be written for a whole bunch of other stuff.” Castro stopped short of saying he would push for direct compensation to descendants as president, saying instead that he would appoint a commissioner or task force that would make recommendations.
Sanders was in New Hampshire, while Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was in Dallas, Kamala Harris of California was in Miami and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was in Tampa.
The Vermont senator emphasized his rise from longshot candidate to major Democratic presidential contender in his first trip to New Hampshire since launching another run for president.
Sanders said his ideas that seemed “radical and extreme” four years ago are now helping define Democrats campaigns across the country.
“Those ideas that we talked about when I came here to New Hampshire four years ago, ideas that seemed so very radical at that time,” Sanders said. “Well, today, virtually all of those ideas are supported by a majority of the American people and they are being supported by Democratic candidates from school board to president of the United States.”
Sanders topped Hillary Clinton by 22 points in the state’s 2016 primary.