HUD Secretary Julián Castro raised his public profile with an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert Monday night on the eve of the State of the Union address, furthering speculation that he could be running for vice president on the Democratic ticket.
Castro sat down with Colbert to discuss a number of housing-related topics and address VP rumors just one night before President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union Address. Many in the mortgage industry are wondering if the President will address housing policy at all in his speech.
In October, Secretary Castro announced his endorsement for former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, according to multiple media sources.
Castro, 41, has been HUD Secretary since July 2014. Prior to becoming the country’s top housing official, Castro served as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. His twin brother, Joaquin, a Democratic U.S. Congressman from Texas, has already endorsed Clinton and done some campaigning for her.
A dinner with Clinton in 2014 stirred rumors of Secretary Castro's VP candidacy, according to the Washington Post. Castro has always deflected conjecture that he would be on the ticket for VP in 2016, and again denied that he would run alongside Clinton to Colbert. Monday on Colbert's show, after the comedian discussed several HUD housing initiatives, the comedian/talk show host told Castro that he "sounded a little bit like he was running for something" to which the audience responded with applause.
Colbert jokingly asked Castro if he and his twin brother ever traded places, to which the Secretary responded that they cannot impersonate each other because everyone can tell the two apart since "I'm a minute uglier than he is." (Julián is the older twin by one minute).
"Now, someone who finds you attractive on a certain level is Hillary Clinton, because she has floated your name," Colbert said. "When asked if she got the nomination, who she would consider for vice president, she said, 'Well, certainly Julián Castro would be someone that we would consider.' There are rumors that you are in 'vice president training camp.' What does that involve other than staying awake behind someone giving a State of the Union address?"
Colbert asked the Secretary how likely is it "on a scale of one to 'Stephen, that's flattering to even be mentioned, but I have to concentrate on the job I'm doing now'" that he would run on a presidential ticket with Clinton. Castro responded, "Stephen, that's flattering to even be mentioned, but I have to concentrate on the job I'm doing," which elicited laughter from the audience.
"So she asked? She's already talked to you about it?" Colbert asked amidst audience approval.
"Not at all. Not at all," Castro said, smiling.
Colbert then seemed to change the subject by engaging in a flash card exercise, presenting Castro with a series of flash cards featuring a Spanish phrase to test his knowledge of Spanish, since English is Castro's first language. After correctly identifying "la biblioteca" as the library and "el corazon" as the heart, the third card read "Yo soy el vicepresidente," to which Castro laughed and intentionally incorrectly translated it as "You are the vice president" while the audience laughed.
"No, I'm sorry, it says 'I am the vice president,' sir. You have to work on that one," Colbert said.