The 2019 Texas Tribune Festival brings big-name politicians to the Austin community

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On Saturday, I had the exciting opportunity to attend The Texas Tribune Festival. The event boasted a collection of speakers and panels on various political issues, ranging from gun control to millennials in politics. The three-day festival was held in the Paramount Theater, Central Presbyterian Church, St. David’s Episcopal Church and tents stationed on Congress Avenue. The speaker list included politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar and Julián Castro. Due to a European history test and a cross country meet, I was unable to see most of the candidates. I did, however, get a chance to see Castro speak. 

The one-on-one with Castro was hosted in the Paramount Theater. Despite having the lowest polling average out of the third debate qualifiers, he drew a sizable crowd from the festival attendees. The interview was moderated by NBC correspondent and “MSNBC live” anchor Katy Tur. They discussed impeachment, immigration, the 2020 race, and even his “PAW Plan,” which aims to end animal cruelty. 

When asked about his position on impeachment, Castro cited the recent scandal between the president of Ukraine and Donald Trump. For more details, check out the CNN report on the scandal (linked here.) Castro compared Trump’s withholdment of his phone transcript to Watergate, saying that Trump’s action was a “clear, abusive use of power, and I think impeachable conduct.” 

Tur continued to ask Castro about whether fellow presidential candidate Joe Biden should be investigated further after Trump’s accusation that the Vice President used his political power to protect his son’s business dealings. In the last democratic debate held in Houston, Texas, Castro aggressively challenged Biden, and according to who you ask “age-shamed” him in the process by accusing him of forgetting his own policy. However, on Saturday, Castro defended Biden against Trump’s allegations. 

“I believe that Joe Biden is honest and honorable,” Castro said to Tur. “Trump is trying to do [to Biden] what he did to Clinton in 2016.”

A central part of Castro’s campaign has been centered around the topic of immigration, specifically the action of repealing section 1325, which places a criminal violation, as opposed to a civil one, on illegal immigrants. 

“For 60 years, under Democratic and Republican presidents, we have been able to control our borders,” Castro said to Tur. “I say we maintain common sense and sensibility but still hold people accountable. I’ve learned the ways of the past. You’re not going to deport your way to the negotiation table.”

Castro has qualified for the fourth debate that will be held on Oct. 15 at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Prior to his qualification, Castro sent out an email to his supporters, saying that if he failed to make the debate stage it would be the end of his campaign.

As a voter, this is a little troubling to me. I do not want a president who will give up the minute something goes awry, and I certainly do not want one who threatens donors with resignment for campaign money. While I don’t predict that Castro will be in the race much longer due to his polling record, I do think he could stay in longer if he promoted a more optimistic view for his presidency. His willingness to leave signals that he is maybe trying to gain name recognition for another office in the presidency. 

The night ended on an exciting note with a one-on-one with Nancy Pelosi, who was interviewed by the CEO of The Texas Tribune, Evan Smith. The interview was significant because it was Pelosi’s first sit-down interview following her call for an inquiry of impeachment against Trump. Pelosi, who has been reluctant to call for impeachment, said she was ultimately drawn to action following Trump’s released transcripts of his phone call with the Ukranian president. A point she continued to emphasize throughout her interview was the need to respond appropriately on a call for impeachment. She called on the country to be somber that politics had reached a new height of corruption and division, instead of responding with joy. She also stressed the necessity of making an effort to unite and make bipartisan decisions. For the full interview, which includes discussion of impeachment, “how to pass a bill,” and Evan Smith trying to get a word in, visit this link.

So far, 12 candidates have qualified for the fourth democratic debate Oct. 15. In the third debate, only 10 candidates made the stage. This time, Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer have fought their way onto the debate stage. 

Check back next week for an update on the 2020 election and, as always, feel free to leave your comments down below.

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