None of the 20 or so Democratic candidates for president has visited Nevada more than former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro.
With the Democratic caucus less than six months away, this week marks Castro’s eighth trip here.
“I see Nevada as a crucial state in my path to victory in this Democratic primary,” the candidate told KNPR's State of Nevada.
Castro is not just visiting the population centers of Clark and Washoe Counties but also smaller areas like West Wendover and Elko. Castro wants to visit all 50 states during his campaign and not just the large cities.
"I want to be a president that knows that everybody counts,” he said.
Like all presidential candidates, Castro has a number of proposals for a variety of problems facing the country.
“We need to be strong partners with public schools,” he said of the federal government.
Castro said he grew up in public schools and his father was a math teacher in public schools.
“I see our public schools as the primary way to make sure that our young people get the knowledge and the skills they need to get gainful employment and provide for themselves and their families,” he said.
He said his education plan includes incentives for teachers to take jobs in struggling schools whether that is urban or rural schools.
Castro would like to boost the country's social safety net with a wealth-inequality tax and an inheritance tax. He wants to repeal and replace the tax cuts passed by Republicans and signed by President Trump with "relief for working poor and the middle class."
“I do believe there is good reasoning for a progressive tax system where bracket by bracket we’re expecting more as you go up the ladder.”
He also wants to raise the top marginal tax and the corporate tax. Castro pointed out that Amazon made $11 billion profit last year but didn't pay anything in federal taxes.
“My first executive order, if I’m president, will be to recommit the United States to the Paris Climate Accord so that we lead again on sustainability.”
Castro believes climate change is an existential threat to the world. He supports efforts to get to net-zero carbon emissions by at least 2050.
And he sees economic opportunities in clean energy like wind and solar power and he doesn't believe the country has to choose between protecting the plant and the economy.
He said in next couple of weeks he'll release is complete climate plan.
“We know that we can have a secure border and also make sure that there are consequences when somebody comes across the border because we did it like that for 60 years,” he said.
Castro's plan is to decriminalize crossing the border. He said that was the policy during Ronald Regan and George H. W. Bush's presidencies.
The candidate said changing a border crossing to a civil matter worked then and didn't lead to the separation of families at the southern border.
Plus, Castro believes the country needs immigrants because the birth rate is dropping in the U.S., which means there are fewer young people entering the workforce at the same time that many baby boomers are retiring.
“There is a way for everybody to win if we in an orderly, reasonable way harness the potential of immigrants to help create that young vibrant healthy workforce in a variety of industries and at the same time we make sure that something like the Social Security trust fund that will provide a good, decent living to seniors who need it, who earned it, is there for the long haul.”
He said that is a smarter and more humane way to address immigration than keeping kids in detention centers.
“It is very ironic to me that in this community of Las Vegas that is known for the glitz and the glamour of these hotels that tower above the Strip that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and tourist from around the world that come here to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on shows, and gambling and shopping that you have as many people as you do that are sleeping in drainage tunnels that run underneath that same Las Vegas Strip.”
Castro has a number of proposals to address housing, including pumping $42 billion into the National Housing Trust Fund.
“I had this goal in my housing plan of creating three million more housing units," he said.
Besides the boost in funding, Castro wants to expand low-income housing tax credit, create a tax credit for renters and give more tools to states and local communities to develop more housing and he would like to expand the Section 8 housing program to include people making 50 percent of the area median income.
“The ground has shifted on this issue. That hasn't translated yet into legislation that a president has signed on universal background checks, limiting the capacity of magazines, a new assault weapons ban, but we’re getting much, much closer to that day.”
Castro said the saddest thing about mass shootings is that they have become almost routine but he believes more citizens and politicians have had enough.
In addition, he believes the National Rifle Association has lost a lot of its power, which he thinks could mean those who support stiffer gun control could actually get something passed in Congress.
Julián Castro, Democratic presidential candidate