Democratic Presidential Candidate Julian Castro participated in a FOX News town hall event Thursday night moderated by FNC hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
Part two and three:
Full transcript, via FOX News:
MACCALLUM: Julián Castro is the only Latino in the 2020 raise. He says that he can offer a path to victory, that includes winning the 11 electoral votes right here in Arizona. So, let's ask him how he’s going to do that.
Ladies and gentlemen, Julián Castro.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming.
CASTRO: Thank you for having me.
MACCALLUM: Hi, there. Thank you so much. Great to be with you.
CASTRO: Thank you very much.
MACCALLUM: Thank you so much for being here.
CASTRO: Good to see you.
MACCALLUM: Thank you very much.
CASTRO: Thank you for having me.
BAIER: Congratulations on making the first debate stage, just announced by the DNC.
CASTRO: Thanks a lot. Yes, I know. They just put out there statement and I want to thank all of the folks who helped us get to that 65,000 donor threshold to get on the debate stage. I’m looking forward to being there soon.
MACCALLUM: All right. So, let's jump in. We want to start with a question. Before we get to the audience, something that is, you know, sort of topical in the headlines today, a big story as Democrats and even some Republicans are criticizing the president for saying that he would listen to opposition research from a foreign government if it was offered in 2020.
But I guess, one of the questions from the other side that comes up is, how is that really different than the Democrats funding the Steele dossier in 2016 to a British operative who they knew had Russian sources? How is that different?
CASTRO: Well, first of all, I don't think that we should distract their attention from the fact that you have an unprecedented situation here of a president of the United States who, if I remember the video correctly, was actually sitting in the Oval Office behind his desk saying that he would take intelligence against his political opponent from a foreign government. I don't -- I think it’s safe to say that we've never seen that kind of moment in American history. And that’s not a good thing.
And so, instead of deflection or trying to argue that other people did it. But I don't believe that’s true. That’s a different circumstance.
But the reason you’ve seen so many people say "what in the world is wrong with you" to Donald Trump when he said this yesterday, is because we can't imagine that the leader of our country would actually welcome a foreign government to go out and gather intelligence about a political opponent and then share that with a candidate or with the president.
You know, I have said I believe this president should be impeached, and that the Mueller report laid out 10 different instances where the president either obstructed justice or tried to obstruct justice. And yesterday was one more example of why that’s the case. I think, you know, a few years from now, whether it’s 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we’re going to look back on this as Americans, not Republicans or Democrats, or liberals or conservatives, and say, what the hell is wrong with that president?
BAIER: You know -- and there has been bipartisan pushback, you know that, Republicans and Democrats --
BAIER: -- talking about concerned about the foreign influence, foreign interference, and bipartisan pushback on how he answered that question.
But to Martha's question at the end there, what you say to the people who look at Hillary Clinton's campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. He told "The Washington Post" in October 2017: The first I learned of Christopher Steele or saw any dossier was after the election. But if I had gotten handed it last fall, I would have no problem passing it along or urging reporters to look into it. Opposition research happens on every campaign.
Understanding what you’re saying about the framing of the moment, but you see the concern about the double standard here.
CASTRO: What I remember about that situation was that the late Senator John McCain of the state of Arizona, an honorable man who had served his country honorably and who, by the way, the president goes out of his way to insult even after his passing, which I think is presidential. What I remember is that he and others did go to the proper authorities, to the intelligence agencies with that information.
And so, the question on the table for the president yesterday was, if this kind of information came your way, would you go to the FBI? Would you go to the intelligence agencies? Well, that’s exactly what John McCain did with that information. So, these situations are just completely different.
And what’s most important is not what happened in the past. I don't understand why this network and in so many conservative circles, people are still talking about Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot.
Those of us who are running are on the ballot. And I can tell you, I can tell you that those of us who are running want to focus on the issues that are important to Americans and their families.
And they also, I think Americans want a president that they believe has integrity, you know, that is sitting behind the Oval Office and is honest and is accountable to the American people and will put the national interest above his own personal interest.
What you saw yesterday in that moment was a man who very clearly is willing to put his own selfish political interest above even the interest of national security of this country.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, we’re going to move on. But, you know, the Hillary Clinton part obviously is about the beginning of the investigation. There are things happening that people are trying to get to the bottom up. We’ll let that play out and cover it as it comes, but that’s why it’s the focus of the funding of the dossier and Christopher Steele.
Let's get to the first question from the town hall.
MACCALLUM: Which goes to exactly what you're talking about, which is getting to some of these issues that are very important to people's lives in America -- trade, immigration, of course, have dominated the political arena here as we look at this in the border state of Arizona.
Alicia Acuna, our reporter, is going to give us a little bit of a closer look at that story first. Let's watch.
ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS REPORTER: The Arizona Chamber of Commerce says $9 billion of imports come into this border state from Mexico each year.
GARRICK TAYLOR, SPOKESPERSON, AZ CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY: We believe that our proximity to the Mexican border is an asset. It’s not a liability. Mexico is Arizona's largest trading partner by a lot.
ACUNA: For manufacturing supply chains as well as consumers in one of the nation's fastest-growing states.
TAYLOR: Mexico in many states keeps America fed for much of the year.
ACUNA: But proximity comes with a price. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is inundated with asylum seekers.
JEFFREY DONALD SELF, DEPUTY CHIEF PATROL AGENT OF TUCSON, AZ SECTOR: To date, we’ve seen about 258 percent increase over last year and the number of family units of Central America's.
ACUNA: Siphoning from staffing, budget and other missions like stopping illegal drugs --
SELF: What I worry about is how is the situation here in Arizona and across the rest of the southwest border affecting us nationally.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people voted for immigration control. That’s one of the reasons I’m here.
ACUNA: President Trump beat Hillary Clinton in a historically reliable state, but the smaller margin was noted by some political watchers.
STAN BARNES, ANALYST, COPPER STATE CONSULTING GROUP: Any Democrat that does manage to win a significant post doesn't run as a Democrat in order to achieve that. They run as a center right candidate.
ACUNA: Arizona is also undergoing a demographic change. According to U.S. Census Bureau, there’s been an increase in suburban and exurban voters, and Latinos now make up one-third of the population -- all segments Democrats need in the coming presidential election.
Bret and Martha, back to you.
BAIER: Alicia, thank you.
With that in mind, let’s begin with our questions.
Dr. Liz Harris has our first question -- Doctor.
LIZ HARRIS, DESIGNATED BROKER: Secretary Castro, do you determine the number of people pouring into our country to be a national crisis? And what is your solution?
CASTRO: Thank you very much for the question.
I believe that we have a crisis of leadership. If you think about it for a second, when he came into office, Donald Trump said that he was going to solve this -- as he put it -- this immigration problem. And he’s completely failed.
Last month, there were 144,000 people that came to the southern border. And in our name, little children have been separated from their mothers. People, right now, about 100 people are in the 100-degree heat of El Paso, Texas, underneath the bridge, being fenced in and kept like animals together without the ability to shower or to change clothes for a whole month. That is a failure that this president has been on the issue of immigration, right?
So I say that we have tried this cruelty and his mistakes. There’s a better way to do this. And a couple of months ago, I release what I call my "People First" immigration plan that says, number one, that we need to treat people with compassion and with common sense instead of cruelty. That we need to --
We need to put the undocumented immigrants who are in the United States as long as somebody hasn't committed a serious crime on a pathway to citizenship, including our Dreamers.
That we need to invest in immigration judiciary that is independent and has enough judges and support staff to actually go through all of the claims for asylum, so that people are not waiting in limbo years upon years. I mean, people that are out there in the country are just waiting, right? We can do a better job than that.
And maybe most importantly, we actually need to get to the root cause of this issue. And the root cause of this issue is that in places like Honduras, like Guatemala, like El Salvador, that people can’t find safety or opportunity there in their home country. And so, that’s why a mother would bring her 6-month-old infant more than a thousand miles on a dangerous journey to the southern border of the United States without any guarantee of getting into because they are so desperate. It’s so dangerous.
So I’ve called for the equivalent of 21st century Marshall Plan based on mutual respect and working together with these countries and with Mexico so that people can find that safety and opportunity there, and 144,000 people don't have to come to the southern border to try to find it here. I believe that’s a smarter, more effective and more humane way to approach immigration than the way we’ve done it.
And let me just, you know, finish this answer by saying that, some people ask me, well, why in the world was this the first policy proposal that you made? This is an issue that’s personal to me. I grew up with a grandmother who came over here from the United States when she was 7 years old from Mexico with her little sister. And they came because their parents had died.
And she ended up on the west side of San Antonio. She raised my mom as a single parent. She was basically like a second mother to me. She came here like I bet a lot of your parents and grandparents did, or maybe some of you have, with hardly anything.
And this country provided her the opportunity to work hard, to provide for her daughter, to see her doctor to be the first to graduate from high school and then go on to college. And then just two generations after she got to the United States, one of her grandsons, my twin brother, Joaquin, is the United States congressman and the other is running for president of the United States.
That is America. That is what we can do. Thank you for the question.
MACCALLUM: Secretary Castro, you’ve said that you believe that entering the country illegally should not be a federal crime. And you just touched upon that.
The acting DHS secretary has said that 90 percent of the people that are apprehended at the border do not qualify for asylum and 90 percent of them do not ever show up for their court date once they've been apprehended and released -- catch and release.
So, if it's not a crime to enter the country, is at a crime to not show up for your court date? Or what point is a crime committed in this process do you believe?
CASTRO: Yes. Thank you for the question.
So, let's be clear about what we’re talking about here. In 1929, the United States passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, and Section 1325 of that basically said that it is a criminal offense to cross the border. However, from 1929 until about 2004, the United States did not enforce somebody crossing the border as a criminal violation. We enforced it basically is a civil violation.
And it was after we started enforcing it is a criminal violation that a lot of the problems that we see today of this huge backlog of people out there in the country that are waiting in limbo, of the separation of little children from their parents and the detention and incarceration of these families, when that started happening, right?
So I’ve said, there is a better way to do this. I would dispute the statistics from that deputy secretary about how many people actually return for their court dates. In fact, at the end of Obama administration, they implemented something called the Family Case Management Program.
And this Family Case Management Program essentially worked with folks who had a court date that they needed to come back and appear for. It was based on sort of a case manager for them and they kept in constant contact with the families. They knew where they were. They inform them about their court dates and the responsibility that they had.
During that program, people had more than 98 percent return rate to come back to their court dates.
And so I say, instead of treating people cruelly, instead of wasting money, instead of wondering where people are at, why don't we implement a smart, effective humane program like that Family Case Management Program --
MACCALLUM: It doesn’t sound like there’s anyone that you wouldn't let in? I mean, is there anyone you wouldn’t let in?
CASTRO: No, no, I haven’t said that. I said if somebody --
MACCALLUM: But if it’s not illegal to cross the border illegally and it’s OK to not show up for -- you know, I know you want people to show up for their court date but you said, you know, that’s not where you would draw the line with the law either.
So who -- you know, who doesn't -- does everyone get or who doesn’t get in?
CASTRO: Well, I mean, let's just take a step back, right, because some people have said -- for instance, they say, are Democrats for open borders. Let's think about -- and the folks in Arizona know, just like those of us in Texas, we know about the border.
We have at our border, 644 miles of fencing. We have thousands of personnel on the border. We have planes.
We have helicopters. We have guns. We have security cameras.
We have a court system --
MACCALLUM: But you’ve got a hundred thousand people crossing the border a month.
CASTRO: Well, we have a court system that -- that’s designed but is underfunded to be able to deal with that. So, I would -- I would immediately fund enough judges and support staff to actually deal with those cases so that somebody --.
BAIER: But to the doctor’s question you do think it’s a crisis?
CASTRO: I think it’s a crisis of leadership. I think this president made it worse.
BAIER: Not like an actual crisis?
CASTRO: I think the crisis that exists is driven by the conditions in countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. And instead of making it better, this president is actually making it worse.
BAIER: Let's get to our next question.
BAIER: Jessica Welch. Jessica Welch?
Yes, there you are. Go ahead, Jessica.
JESSICA WELCH, ASSISTANT OFFICE MANAGER: So, I personally have had my Social Security number used by an illegal immigrant. He was caught and released on his own recognizance and never to be heard from again. My question is, would you be willing to penalize offenders taking advantage of Americans by having them not released if they’re known to be illegal?
CASTRO: Thank you very much for the question.
Let me begin to answer that question by saying, look, all of us know as human beings that regardless of circumstance, whether people are rich, or poor, no matter the color of their skin, what their background is, that people commit crime. Crime happens.
I’m sorry to hear what happened to your Social Security number. I know how that can be jarring for somebody. Hopefully, that was resolved, OK.
But I have said very clearly that if somebody commits a crime like that, that they should be punished for that. It doesn't matter who you are. Whether you’re an American citizen, whether you’re not an American citizen, whether you’re undocumented, if somebody commits that kind of crime, then, of course, I believe that that person should be punished.
What I don't believe is that we should be incarcerating these women and children who are fleeing desperate circumstances in those countries and simply are looking for a better life, and then we’re keeping them in cages like animals, and keeping these men in 100 degree heat, underneath a bridge, they’re fenced in like animals, like a dog pound basically.
I believe that we’re better than that as Americans. And so, of course, we need to enforce those laws, whether it’s identity theft or it’s more serious crimes. I said that very clearly.
And we need to maintain a border that is secure, right? We can get better in some ways about border security. You all may remember here in Arizona, a few -- a couple of months ago, we had the largest bust of fentanyl in our nation's history -- 254 pounds of fentanyl.
But that didn't come through the border. It came through one of the ports of entry, one of the checkpoints. Why don't we invest in ports of entry to catch more drug trafficking and human trafficking that happens there. That’s the kind of border security I think that we need to invest more in.
BAIER: And, Mr. Secretary, obviously the Trump administration is pitching that as well to Congress to try to get those things as well as part of a plan.
You know, Democrats have not always talked about immigration like you’re talking about it today. Take a listen to a couple.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple. People who entered the United States without our permission are illegal aliens and illegal alien should not be treated the same as people who entered the U.S. legally.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Protecting public safety and deporting dangerous criminals has been and will remain the top priority, but we are going to refocus our efforts where we can to make sure we do what it takes to keep our border secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: And today, your fellow Texan and presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said that the Obama administration, the Obama/Biden administration, deported too many people and handle the issue poorly. You were a cabinet member during that administration. Do you agree with Beto O'Rourke?
CASTRO: Well, what I said is that, you know, when I was mayor of San Antonio, I was mayor of San Antonio between 2009-2014, I was critical of some of the things that that administration did. I will say the big difference, number one, I believe that Barack Obama actually had a concern and a compassion for these immigrants, and that throughout the years, the Obama administration in different ways got better and better on this issue. I think especially things like DACA and DAPA.
But, hey, to me, it's not what party you are in, right? It's about the people themselves. And so, I don't care whether it’s Democrat or it’s Republican. What I care about is that we live up to our best ideals to treat people with compassion, treat them with common sense, and also, to be effective in our immigration policy.
Is that Democrat? Is that Republican? I think that’s common sense. And that’s the kind of approach that I would bring.
MACCALLUM: All right. We’re going to get a quick break and a lot more questions to come.
MACCALLUM: Folks here want to drill on a couple of issues that we’re going to talk about tonight and the claims of, quote, over-aggressive policing that you have talked about as well and what you plan to do about it, when we come back.
BAIER: That’s next. Stay with us.
BAIER: From humble beginnings to the halls of power in Washington, Julián Castro was born in 1974 in San Antonio, Texas, just one minute apart from his twin brother Joaquin.
MACCALLUM: They were both raised by their mother, Rosie, a Mexican-American civil rights activist. Julián went on to Stanford University and Harvard Law School, before returning to his roots, becoming the youngest San Antonio City councilmember ever elected at age 26.
BAIER: He lost his first bid for mayor of San Antonio in 2005, but he ran again in 2009 and won.
CASTRO: You are going to own city hall when I’m mayor of San Antonio.
MACCALLUM: He took the national stage in 2012 to deliver the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.
CASTRO: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: The first Latino to do so.
CASTRO: It’s not every day that you get a call from the president asking you if you want a job.
BAIER: At only 39, Julián joined President Obama's cabinet as the youngest member, serving as the secretary of housing and urban development.
MACCALLUM: His twin brother Joaquin also ascending the political ladder, currently representing Texas in Congress.
BAIER: Julián, now running for president, plans to challenge President Trump with his progressive platform , including Medicare-for-All, police reform, and fighting climate change.
MACCALLUM: All right. So, let's get right back to the questions from the audience, shall we?
Mike Langley has our next question -- Mike.
MIKE LANGLEY, COMMUNITY ADVOCATE, NONPROFIT BOARD MEMBER: Good afternoon, Secretary.
CASTRO: Good afternoon.
LANGLEY: We have seen a few mayors and a few former mayors enter this race. So, I was curious, how was your experience as a mayor and cabinet secretary prepared you to run for president? How and why?
CASTRO: Thank you very much for the question. You know, I’m proud to be one of the few folks in this race that has real executive experience. As a cabinet secretary and I also served as mayor of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in our country.
And one of the reasons I think that folks are looking for to people that have mayoral experience these days is because mayors are all about getting things done, right? The mayor is the person that gets the calls about streets that needs to be fixed, or fire response is not fast enough, or police response is not fast enough. What are you going to do to create more economic opportunity, more jobs in this community?
And so, people are able to measure you very easily by what do you get things done. I have a track record of getting things done.
So, when I talk about my plans, for instance, for education, I’ve actually worked on that when I was mayor of San Antonio, for instance. We put to the voters a ballot initiative called Pre-K for SA to raise the sales tax by an eighth of a cent to significantly expand high-quality full day pre-K in our city. And, you know, we’re in Texas, so people wondered if people would support an eight of a cent sales tax increase.
But you know what? I had to work with people that agreed with me and people that disagreed with me. People in the business community, people that were in the education community and activists to get that thing passed. And it did pass.
And today, because of that, San Antonio has one of the best pre-K programs in all of the United States and is better educating its young people. That's the kind of track record of actually doing things, of getting things done that I believe my experience as mayor and cabinet secretary helps prepare me for being president.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, today, a federal watchdog agency recommended that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway be fired for violating the Hatch Act, essentially campaigning while in federal office. When you were HUD secretary, the same agency accused you of the same thing.
President Obama gave you a pass. Should President Trump give Kellyanne Conway a pass?
CASTRO: Thank you for the question.
Let me -- let me just explain sort of what happened back then. And also, let me apply that to the political climate that I think that we have today. So, in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was running, I was doing an interview at the HUD studio, I think with Katie Couric. And we were talking about HUD business, about housing.
And then she asked me a question about the presidential race. And I said, well, just let me put on my other hat, and I talked about why I supported Hillary Clinton. Somebody complained that that was a violation of the Hatch Act.
And, you know, we consulted with our HUD general counsel, and they said that, you know what, that is. So, I said, I made a mistake. I’m going to make sure that I admit that and that we will do everything that we can so that I understand where those lines are and that everybody else on my team understands where those lines are.
I think it's important for leaders to be able to acknowledge when they have made mistakes and then to be able to take proper action to correct that. The difference between me and Kellyanne Conway is -- and the Office of Special Counsel pointed this out, she violated the Hatch Act. And instead of saying, look, I’m going to take these efforts to make sure that doesn't happen again, she said, to hell with that, I’m going to do it. They said that she had repeatedly done that. That's the difference.
I don’t -- I don't think that we’re going to find anybody either in this race or in our homes and in our community that has never made mistakes. The true test of a leader is, what do you do when you make that mistake? Are you big enough to own up to it and then make sure that you correct what you do in the future? Or do you basically what she did, which is to say, no, I’m bigger than that?
No. She did the wrong thing. And I support the Office of Special Counsel's determination that because she repeatedly violated it, even though she was clearly told that it was a violation, that she should be removed from office.
BAIER: But in reality, you're pretty sure she won't be?
MACCALLUM: So, our next question comes from Scott Meyer.
Scott, there you are.
SCOTT MEYER, FIRST RESPONDER: Good afternoon, sir.
Under our current administration, the world view of America is less appealing. If elected, what would you do to improve our international relations while still keep America as a strong power in our diplomacy?
CASTRO: Thank you very much for that question.
You know, I grew up during a time of geopolitical change. I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. I remember the beginning, of course, of the First Gulf War, of the second. I believe that we have a lot of cleaning up to do, frankly, when this president is gone.
This president has torn apart some of the strongest alliances that we have as a country. My first order of business would be to repair those alliances with our European allies, whether it’s the U.K., it’s France, it’s Germany. I mean, these alliances have been a big reason why this world has been safer and that we have been better off as a country.
I would also repair some of the damage that I think has been done to our original relationships with places like Canada. I mean, who gets in a fight with Canada? All right?
But, somehow, this president did. And the relationship that we have with Canada and Mexico is so important for our security and also economically. And it's more important than ever that we have allies around the world because we have countries like China that are growing very quickly, that are projected to get stronger and stronger militarily and economically.
It's estimated that in 2030, that if nothing changes that China is going to eclipse as the largest economy in the world. I believe that we need to do everything that we can to make sure that we are as strong as possible economically, and also to protect ourselves militarily.
I also believe that the United States does have a role to play in furthering the values that have made our nation special -- freedom, democracy, opportunity, equality for people around the world. That doesn't mean that we should get entangled in unnecessary conflicts. We saw what a mistake Iraq was. But it does mean that we should not be cozying up to dictators like the dictator in North Korea or other countries that this president can't seem to get it right with.
I would return to a time when the United States leads on things like human rights and pushing for freedom and democracy and equality.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, obviously the president said that he's engaged in all of this pushback with these countries including Canada because he says that they are taking advantage of our economic situation. One of the big topics obviously in recent days, you touched on it, China, and the trade war, possibly expanding trade war with China. That's ongoing.
The president hit Joe Biden the other day for flipping on how he talked about China. Here's what he said in May and then earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man.
They’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not -- they’re not competition for us.
China poses real challenges to the United States and some ways a real threat to the United States. Donald Trump is only exacerbating the threat and the danger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So, which one is right, Joe Biden in May or Joe Biden this week?
CASTRO: Well, look, I’m not going to address what other people are talking about. What I can tell you is what I believe. What I believe is that –
That China -- what I think is that China is a competitor, that right now, it’s forging alliances in places like Africa and Latin America, making investments in those countries. And that means that we need to be smart about forging our own alliances.
I can say, for instance, that I believe if I were elected president, that I would have a unique and unprecedented opportunity to forge a stronger relationship with Mexico and with Latin America that would benefit us in the long run, both in terms of security and economic development. And to also focus on the Pacific region, to make sure we are doing that as we understand both the challenges and the opportunities of the 21st century.
So, yes. I think that China's a competitor. That we have to have smart policy around.
MACCALLUM: Take a look at Iran. Obviously, big news today. With regard to that, Secretary Pompeo saying that he believes that they were behind two attacks on two tankers. There were another two tankers that were attacked in recent weeks, also the attack at the Saudi Arabia airport with a missile strike.
Put yourself in the Oval Office today on this day, June 13th. You are looking at the situation. As president, how do you respond, how do you deescalate what's going on here, and not risk a war?
CASTRO: Well, and I think in your question, that you hit right on what we have to do, which is to work to deescalate situations like this, to avert a war.
The issue that I have with this administration is that they seem to be hell-bent on moving us toward a war with Iran. And the first step of that was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement. The Iran nuclear agreement was the best, strongest agreement that we had to make sure that a country did not develop a capacity to launch a nuclear weapon.
And instead of embracing that and making sure, as all of the intelligence agencies said, that Iran continued to abide by the terms of the agreement, this president haphazardly came in and said, you know what, we’re going to throw that out the window.
That makes the situation in Iran less stable. It makes it more likely that we're going to get into conflict, which I don't believe in. And it sends a signal to the rest of the world, including places like North Korea, that even if we engage in diplomatic efforts and move towards some sort of agreement that would keep them from developing further their nuclear capacity, that we’re going to honor it.
MACCALLUM: But my question is, what would you do today, given what’s going on?
BAIER: Yes, the intelligence agencies come in.
MACCALLUM: Given the tankers on fire, we’re evacuating people, there’s a military operation essentially to evacuate these people. So, what are you going to do in this moment to fix the situation to solve it? What would you do today?
CASTRO: Number one, we always have to make sure that our folks are safe, that our personnel are safe, that they have what they need. We’re going to support them over there.
Secondly, we need to engage our allies and put pressure on Iran through sanctions and other ways to ensure that they don't act in an aggressive way. But that’s --
MACCALLUM: Well, the administration has done that. One of the choices would be to relieve those sanctions. Is that anything that you would consider in this moment?
CASTRO: Look, I’m not privy to all of the intelligence information, obviously, that Mike Pompeo is or the president is. But I believe that this conflict with Iran has been ginned up, and that we are moving down a path that seems familiar from the past that has led to a lot of turmoil in that region.
And so, I would do everything that I could to work with our allies to try and avoid further escalation, to try and de-escalate that.
BAIER: You know what they said, the administration. They said the reason Iran is acting this way is because the sanctions are squeezing them and they’re acting out and these fires are real. It's not fake. The oil tankers were on fire today.
So, that's genesis to the question.
CASTRO: Again, you know, I don't necessarily think that we need to ease up on sanctions. However, the mistake that this president made was changing the relationship that we had in terms of the Iran nuclear agreement that was in place.
What he did is basically break apart the positive forward progress that we had with Iran that was abided, all of the intelligence agencies said that they were abiding by the terms of that agreement. It was an effective agreement. And then, unfortunately, this president came in and said, no, we’re not going to abide by it. And I think that has led to the instability that we see today.
BAIER: We have another question.
Michelle Rose is the next question -- Michelle.
MICHELLE ROSE, BUSINESS SYSTEMS ANALYST: Secretary Castro, how would you lessen the amount of use of excessive force by law enforcement? And do you support civilian review boards with subpoena and firing power?
CASTRO: Thank you very much for the question.
You know, I said a few days ago that earlier this year, I was in Charleston, South Carolina, and I was a few blocks away from the Mother Emanuel EMA Church, where in 2015, Dylann Roof went in when people were worshipping in that church and he murdered nine people. And then a few hours later, he was apprehended, without incident -- as I believe he should be apprehended without incident, taken into custody, taken to trial and punished.
But then what about Eric Garner? And what about Stephon Clark? And what about Jason Pero? And what about Sandra Bland and what about Tamir Rice? And what about Laquan McDonald? And what about Pamela Turner? And what about Antonio Arce, here in Tempe, Arizona?
Through often times -- through often times we have seen police mistreat, especially young men of color, a lot of young black men --
How many of these videos do we have to watch? I don’t care what your politics is; whether you’re liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican -- we’re in an age of technology, where you see the video now. How many of these videos do you have to watch before we understand that even though we have some great police officers, and I’ve worked with some of them as mayor of San Antonio, that this is not a problem of a few bad apples. The system itself is broken. And we need to fix it. And that’s why I’ve --
That’s why, you know, I proposed this Police Reform Plan -- nobody else on the campaign trail has done this, but I was proud to do it because I’m going to speak up for the voices of folks who often don’t get somebody to speak up for them -- and it’s called for; things like greater accountability through these review boards, through a use of forced standard that says, basically, that police departments shall not use lethal force unless all other reasonable alternatives in a situation have been expended, and it holds them accountable for those actions -- that creates more transparency, that ensures that police departments have the support they need to recruit, as well as possible, right -- and to retain the best officers.
And -- does things like -- they're simple and straightforward like create a database of police officers that have been decertified. You know that right now we don’t have a federal database that shows which police officers have been decertified because they engaged in egregious misconduct?
So an officer -- you’ve probably seen this in the past, an officer can commit misconduct here and then go to the next town over, too often times, and get a job; when they shouldn’t in the first place. So these are simple but powerful things to make sure that we improve --
-- our policing.
MACCALLUM: Mr. Secretary -- if I could just ask you a follow-up on that.
Perhaps from the other side of that equation. Last night you had 25 police officers in Memphis, people threw rocks and bricks at them, after they took after a man’s life, after a man was killed, in a situation where they were trying to bring in a fugitive. According to their reports, he rammed into the police cars with his car and the situation unfolded.
You also got a 26 percent increase in the number of police officers who are killed in the line of duty in the most recent numbers. So what do you say to those families of law enforcement who look at your program of people first and say, this police officer, who is part of my family, is also a person?
CASTRO: I agree with that. And first of all I say -- thank you and God bless you, to the service that you’re giving to the community. And I know that, as I said, that we have a lot of police officers who are doing a good job in our country; I saw that as mayor of San Antonio.
But what I also will say is that -- and I know this, as a former public servant, public servants, whether they’re a mayor or a police officer -- public servants work for the public. The public doesn’t work for them. Right? They serve the public. And --
We need to make sure -- we need to make sure that, just like with every other profession, that we continue to improve that profession. The thing about being a police officer is that you quite literally have the life and death of people in your hands. And so we need to respect what they do. We honor their service.
MACCALLUM: We also wake up every morning with the possibility that you might not go home at the end of the day.
CASTRO: That is very true.
MACCALLUM: And that happens a lot, too.
And I just think that some of them might hear what you say and feel, you know, that they are being made the enemy and feel --
CASTRO: Not at all.
MACCALLUM: -- that that’s not fair.
CASTRO: Not at all. And that’s why I’m always clear about the fact that I know that there are good police officers out there.
But I also know that I’ve seen too many of these videos, read too many newspaper articles, heard from too many people out there in our country, especially young black men, who are being treated differently because of who they are and that is not acceptable in the United States.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. When we come back, more questions for Secretary Castro; a final round -- from Tempe, Arizona.
BAIER: Welcome back to our Fox News Town Hall here in Tempe, Arizona with Former HUD Secretary and 2020 Hopeful Julián Castro. Mr. Secretary, this past week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said that -- pro-life beliefs were essentially akin to racism and anti-Semitism. Was she right?
CASTRO: Yeah, I didn’t see what she said. What I can say is that --
BAIER: Here’s what she said. "I think there’s some issues that have such moral clarity that we have as a society decided that the other side is not acceptable. Imagine saying that it’s okay to appoint a judge who’s racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic. Asking someone to appoint someone who takes away basic human rights of any group of people in America -- I don’t think that those are political issues anymore."
CASTRO: Yeah. I’m going to focus on what I believe and let the folks, the viewers know what I believe, and what I believe is that a woman should have the right to get an abortion in this country; should have the right to choose.
And what we see --
What we see happening in states like Missouri, Alabama, Georgia is a -- all out assault on that right and if I’m president I’m going to appoint judges who understand the importance of that right, who will uphold Roe v. Wade, and do everything that I can to ensure that women have that right and that we protect not only reproductive freedom, but that we enhance reproductive justice. And this is the question on the Hyde Amendment.
I don’t believe that just because a woman is poor that she shouldn’t be able to exercise that right to her own control over her body. And so I agree with doing away with the Hyde Amendment.
BAIER: So you say you want to talk only about what you believe. But obviously, you have to make a name for yourself on the debate stage. Is Joe Biden’s back and forth on the Hyde Amendment an issue for you?
CASTRO: We’re not on the debate stage yet.
MACCALLUM: No, we’re on the Town Hall Stage.
CASTRO: NBC has the debate.
Right? All right?
BAIER: You never know, you never know.
CASTRO: Let me just say that -- look. I think what folks want to know is where we stand on the issues and people are going to get a clear sense of the contrast that exists. But I have just found that especially now, the number one priority for voters is to understand what each of us believe, as they try and sort this out and so I don’t want to distract right now by talking about other candidates when the fact is that I need to introduce myself to a lot of people who don’t know who I am yet, in this Democratic Primary and so I don’t want them to know who Joe Biden is and what he stands for with this air time. I want them to know what Julián Castro believes and what he thinks.
BAIER: Okay. Fair enough.
MACCALLUM: All right. Let’s go to Caleb Webb. Caleb?
Will the real Caleb Webb please stand up.
CALEB WEBB: Hi, Secretary Castro. It’s good to see you back here in Arizona.
CASTRO: Good to see you.
WEBB: It was a pleasure meeting you during your time a mayor of San Antonio. However though, an ever-growing national debt has been labeled as a potential national security concern and has already saddled future generations with a heavy shared load of that debt.
As president, how will you work to pay down the federal debt? And what federal programs will you cut while implementing the progressive policies that you’ve set for yourself to accomplish?
CASTRO: Thanks a lot for the question and as you probably know, as a mayor, you have to work with a balanced budget under state law, and so I certainly appreciate the need to ensure that future generations are not saddled with so much debt that it affects their ability to prosper in the United States in the future.
I have two children of my own; my daughter Carina, who is 10 and my son Cristian, who’s four -- I want to make sure that they have a bright future. Part of that, of course, deals with the debt.
At the same time, what we’ve seen during these last two years of this administration is very irresponsible -- tax cuts that gave a trillion and a half dollars to the wealthy and to wealthy corporations. If we want to talk about being fiscally responsible, the first thing that I would do is repeal and replace those tax cuts with legislation that actually improves the lot of the middle class and the working poor in this country.
And on top of that, I also believe that all of our departments within the federal government should be subject to scrutiny, in terms of how well they're spending their money -- including the Department of Defense. You remember the $400 hammers and other misspending, sometimes, or overspending? I don’t think any part of the federal government should be immune from that kind of scrutiny.
When I was at HUD, that was certainly a concern for us to make sure that we were trying to spend money in a responsible way and if there was a program or initiative that we were putting resources into, one of the things that I was big on was trying to measure how effective that investment was. I think that we need to do more of that in the federal government and if I’m president, I would support that.
So by being as thoughtful about those things on the spending side and then being thoughtful about tax cuts that we don’t need and how we’re going to replace those -- I think that we can do better than this president’s doing right now. Because this president has made the situation worse, not better.
MACCALLUM: So, but you support Medicare for All. You support free kindergarten --
Tuition-free public college, $15 minimum wage, so you know, a lot of folks are going to look at you and say, how are you going to pay for all that? Especially if you were going to get rid of the tax cuts, which a lot of people think has created a lot of jobs, stimulated the economy quite a bit.
CASTRO: Yeah. I mean, I would disagree with that.
MACCALLUM: You would?
CASTRO: Yeah. I mean --
MACCALLUM: You think the economy is pretty good right now?
CASTRO: Well, I don’t think those tax cuts are what has led us to have a 3.6 percent unemployment rate. Those tax cuts were basically -- analysis after analysis has shown this, were way tilted toward the top one percent and to wealthy corporations.
Folks may remember, for instance, that just a couple months ago it was reported that Amazon -- that made more than $11 billion in profit last year didn’t pay any federal tax. And then a couple of days later there was a report about 60 different well-known American companies that had a profit and paid no federal tax.
How is it that Amazon is paying less in taxes than you and your family? The reason for that is that we have our priorities wrong. We have our values wrong. So I would support a tax code that actually gets our values right and that -- boosts the middle class and the working poor, instead of the top one percent and wealthy corporations -- and to answer your question about, well, how are we going to pay for different initiatives that we want to do?
During the course of this campaign I am going to release my plan of how I would pay for these programs, because I do believe that the American voters are entitled to that. But just to give you kind of a preview of that, we need to repeal and replace those tax cuts. We need to raise the top marginal tax rate. We need to close different loopholes that these lobbyists that are hired by these powerful special interests in Washington, D.C. always get worked into a thousand-page document, so that they can get theirs, while you and your family don’t.
And I would also find other ways that are not necessarily in the tax rate, to garner revenue. Just a quick example, when I was HUD Secretary, one of the things that we did was that we funded the National Housing Trust Fund and we did that with a transaction fee on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities -- took about a hundred and -- it was about $175 million to begin with, that was put into a fund that would invest in affordable housing for people who were extremely low income; the poorest of the poor, to be able to get into housing.
That was not raising the tax rate or something else in that tax code. It was a different way to get at it. I would do all of those things to make sure that we’re able to provide an effective way for people to prosper in this country.
BAIER: That was a bit of a closing statement there.
You have a twin brother, Joaquin, who is a congressman. He’s not here tonight. But we are told in San Antonio, you --
-- fooled some people one time because you switched places.
So I want to make sure after this hour Town Hall, that’s very substantive --
-- that you are not Joaquin.
CASTRO: If I were my brother I’d be a little bit uglier.
No, you know, I’m very proud of Joaquin. He’s on the Intelligence Committee. He’s on the Foreign Affairs Committee. He is head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Joaquin and I are very grateful for the opportunities that we’ve had in this country. You know, both of us love this country. We think that we live in the greatest country in the world and my campaign is about telling Americans what we think need to do to make it better than it’s ever been before.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, we appreciate your time tonight.
MACCALLUM: Thank you.
BAIER: Thank you very much.
MACCALLUM: Thank you very much.
BAIER: Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary Castro, thank you to our audience. I’ll be back tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. with Special Report from Washington.
MACCALLUM: And I’ll be back right after the break with The Story. Stick around. Good night, everyone.
BAIER: Good night.