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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

San Antonio Mayor to Give Keynote Speech at Democratic Convention


Julián Castro, the Democratic mayor of San Antonio, will deliver the keynote speech at his party's national convention in September, reprising the role that vaulted Barack Obama to national prominence eight years ago.

Mr. Castro will become the first Hispanic American chosen for the high-profile speaking slot at a time when President Obama is counting on Latinos to help him win a second term in the White House.

The selection was announced by Mr. Castro himself in a video posted by convention organizers and reported on first by Univision.

“I know I've got some big shoes to fill,” Mr. Castro says in the three-minute video. “We've come so far over the past three and a half years under Obama's leadership. And I know he's not done yet. We got a lot more work to do.”

A co-chairman of Mr. Obama's re-election campaign, Mr. Castro is a rising star in the Democratic Party who, at 37, has already been elec ted and re-elected to the top job in San Antonio.

Mr. Castro's Mexican-American background will provide Mr. Obama and the Democrats an opportunity to highlight what they see as a stark contrast with the policies of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party when it comes to Latino issues.

And the speech could serve as a national introduction for Mr. Castro as he pursues a political career outside of Texas.

In the video released Tuesday morning, Mr. Castro previewed the kind of personal story that he will draw upon during his remarks at the convention in Charlotte, N.C. Recalling Mr. Obama's 2004, keynote speech, Mr. Castro said he would be honored to do the same.

“I remember watching his speech in 2004 and being inspired,” Mr. Castro said. “When Obama talked about the audacity of hope, I thought back to my mother saying if you didn't like the way things were, you could dare to change them. I thought, my mother would like this guy.”

Mr. Castro' s home state of Texas is not a political battleground in the presidential campaign and will almost certainly be firmly in Mr. Romney's column in the fall.

But the two candidates are waging fierce fights in Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia - states where the increasing numbers of Latino voters make them an important voting block.

Democrats have said for years that they believe the tough Republican position on illegal immigration will make it more difficult for national politicians like Mr. Romney to earn Latino votes. Picking Mr. Castro for the prominent speaking post is one way of highlighting that issue for voters in those swing states.

Mr. Romney has argued that the nation's economic distress is affecting Latinos even more deeply than other Americans, and that many of them will turn toward Republicans after concluding that Mr. Obama's policies have not worked.

In the video, Mr. Castro argues that Mr. Obama faced a deep economic crisis and has begun to turn things around for all Americans.

“He brought the economy back from the brink, rescued the auto industry while Mitt Romney argued that we should let Detroit go bankrupt, and he created 4.4 million private sector jobs,” Mr. Castro said.