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How The 2020 Democratic Field Is Filling Out


It may be 2019, but the 2020 presidential campaign has already begun. Some potential Democratic candidates have taken big steps towards running, the latest being Julian Castro. The former mayor of San Antonio and former Obama cabinet member announced this weekend he's running for president.


JULIAN CASTRO: When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I'm sure that she never could've imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words. I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.


KELLY: For more about how the 2020 Democratic field is filling out, we are joined by NPR's lead political editor Domenico Montanaro. Hello, Domenico.


KELLY: Start with Castro and that announcement we just heard. What struck you about it?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, the fact is Castro is Latino. And you know, he made a lot of comments during this speech that were bilingual, frankly. He also said in Spanish, (speaking Spanish); I am a candidate for president of the United States. And that really struck a lot of Latinos in a really emotional way because to be able to see this - for any immigrant family, frankly - see somebody go - able to cross this threshold is really fundamental, especially in this era of President Trump, to be honest.

KELLY: In this era of talking about the border and immigration - and he's a third-generation Mexican-American. Another well-known name who has jumped in recently - well-known name who's jumped in recently is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She has been all over the map for months. She was in New Hampshire this weekend. What are we learning about the case that she's going to make to voters?

MONTANARO: Well, she's a fighter, right? And she's been making a very strong case about corporations and Wall Street going unregulated and kind of working within the system. She talks about CEOs and executives getting rich while the little guy gets the scraps. And she was in New Hampshire this weekend, and she went a little bit broader than just that. So let's take a listen there.


ELIZABETH WARREN: We need to make change in this country - not little bitty change, not change at the margins, not a nibble around the edges, not even pass one good law here and one good law there. We need to make systemic change in this country.

MONTANARO: And that might sound a lot like Bernie Sanders - kind of radical, take down the system, change things from the way they are.

KELLY: Bernie Sanders, who is also thinking about making a run in 2020.

MONTANARO: Absolutely. And, you know - but the difference here with Bernie Sanders in this time around if he decides to run - people are wondering if his base will stay with him because you have so many more options. It's not just Bernie versus the establishment.

And frankly, I think a lot of people are looking at this election as pugilism versus pragmatism. Are you somebody who's going to be a fighter and fight for those causes, or are you going to be somebody who takes incremental change? And what one strategist said to me was that they want to find somebody they can fall in love with, somebody that they can go to the mat for, especially because President Trump has such a loyal following.

KELLY: Circle you back quickly to Elizabeth Warren, who the president has a habit of tweeting about. He had a pretty stunning...


KELLY: ...Tweet about her over the weekend. What did it say?

MONTANARO: He did. You know, he again called her Pocahontas. He went further, saying that it would've been a smash if her husband had dressed in full Indian garb and filmed it from Bighorn or Wounded Knee. And there's so much going on there that a lot of people have found racist or offensive. I mean, hundreds of people were killed. Women and children were massacred at Wounded Knee. Congress apologize for this in 1990. But the fact that he's going after her is very telling because he goes after opponents he sees as threats.

KELLY: All right, a lot of jockeying in the months to come as the Democrats try to figure out who might be able to take on and beat President Trump in 2020. Domenico Montanaro, thanks very much.

MONTANARO: Absolutely - be more to talk about.

KELLY: Oh, yes. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.