Navarrette: Warren and Castro are kindred spirits who know that running for president is tough if you don't fit the profile

Julian Castro is finally getting the media attention he deserves. All he had to do was drop his bid for the Democratic nomination for president and stump for Elizabeth Warren.

These days, you can find the former secretary of housing and urban development telling crowds in Iowa how his former opponent would make a great commander in chief, singing Warren’s praises as he schmoozes with reporters in the spin room after last week’s debate, and enthusiastically tweeting that he’s “ready for President Elizabeth Warren.”

Warren and Castro make a good team. And — if Warren survives the boy’s club of presidential politics and secures the nomination — they’d look good together on the same presidential ticket.

For one thing, Warren needs a boost with Latinos. It’s no wonder why. The Massachusetts senator appears to have scarcely given that ethnic group a thought since entering politics to run for the Senate in 2012. Her constituency is highly educated, white, Northeastern liberals — and not much beyond that. And while Castro didn’t corner the market with support from fellow Latinos during the year he spent on the trail, don’t be shocked if they react more fondly to him now that he’s gone, and they’re stuck with a field of Democratic front-runners that is as white as a snowy day in Iowa or New Hampshire.

If Warren-Castro becomes a thing, it would be the third time that Democrats went with the Massachusetts-Texas combination in a White House bid. There was John Kennedy-Lyndon Johnson in 1960, and Michael Dukakis-Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.

Sure, there are differences between the candidates. Like age; Warren is 70, Castro is 45. And then we have their relationship to the Fourth Estate; Warren is the media’s preferred candidate for the White House, while Castro disappeared when he fell into the media “brown hole” (where Latinos go to vanish because they’re neither black nor white). Finally, there is geography; Massachusetts and Texas seem to be on different planets.

But, these two Democrats also have a few things in common. Like Harvard Law School; Warren taught there, and Castro studied there. And strong communication skills; both have done a good job of exciting the base of voters that supports them, even while keeping their cool when attacked.

The diversity duo also has one more thing in common: They’ve both learned the hard way that, if you’re not a white male, running for president is no walk in the park.

Tension comes with the territory when you’re trying to be the first of anything. No one likes change, and it’s not always easy to adjust to a new order of things. White men have it easy. Everyone else, not so much.

Castro was not so lucky. When he suggested decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings and treating them as civil violations, white pundits wondered aloud if the Mexican American wanted “an open border.”

But women who run for president have it just as hard as people of color, if not harder. For years, I’ve had women friends who were Latino or African American tell me that they faced more challenges because they were women than because they were minorities.

I believe it. Women got the right to vote a half century after those African Americans who were freed slaves were allowed to cast ballots. And Americans have elected, and reelected, an African American president. But — looking just at the major political parties — voters have twice taken a pass on electing a female vice president (Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Sarah Palin in 2008) and once refused to elect a woman president by denying Hillary Clinton the number of electoral college votes needed to claim victory.

Now Warren is getting a taste of ignorance. In her recent kerfuffle with Bernie Sanders over a discussion they had on whether a woman could be elected president, I believe Warren. Given that Sanders has long had a burr under his saddle about so-called identity politics, I find it easy to imagine that he said that a woman would have a tough time defeating Donald Trump in 2020. Of course, that’s different from what the media is reporting, that Sanders said a woman could never be elected president. Word games aside, Warren is catching a lot of flak from everyone from conservative radio hosts who hate it when someone plays the “woman card” to Sanders supporters who think their guy got played.

There we go again. Americans are always blaming the victim, and making it seem like it’s the pioneer who has the problem.

Castro has been there and done that. So he’s in a great position to defend Warren against what is yet another unfair attack.

Warren-Castro? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

— Ruben Navarrette is a syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group. Email ruben@rubennavarrette.com

Today's Bible verse

“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”

— Psalm 22:19

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