Trump-bashing en vouge at this year's Wendell Ford Dinner HUD Secretary Castro calls statements on federal judge "appalling"

06/04/2016 12:00 AM

LOUISVILLE — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was a focal point of Friday’s Wendell Ford Dinner, with Democrats repeatedly bashing the New York real estate mogul from the stump during one of the Kentucky Democratic Party’s premiere events.

The dinner at the Kentucky Exposition Center, with keynote speaker U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, drew more than 600 party faithful, with 700 tickets sold.

After detailing the accomplishments of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, Castro turned his attention to the GOP standard-bearer in this year’s presidential contest.

“We’re facing a Republican nominee who claims to want to make America great by violating all of the principles that made America great in the first place,” Castro said. “We see the immigrant-baiting and the dog-whistle politics. We see the carelessness with facts and crassness of character. We see the ignorance in the challenges abroad and the indifference to the struggles of our fellow citizens here at home and the disrespect toward woman and the dishonesty to just about everybody.

“The presidential nominee of the party of Lincoln now embodies the very opposite of what President Lincoln stood for. Far from evoking the better angels of our nature, this nominee calls, basically, for charity for none and malice toward all — except himself.”

The former San Antonio mayor conceded that Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state and senator, will face a tough challenge in convincing conservative voters in states like Kentucky and Texas to back her presidential campaign.

But he told Pure Politics in an interview after his remarks that she can win Kentucky in a general election given previous successes of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and Democrats running for constitutional offices in recent years. Last year, however, the GOP took five of the state’s seven statewide constitutional elections.

“Secretary Clinton has embraced an agenda for everyone,” Castro said. “She has gone to towns big and small making the case. On the other side we have a guy in Donald Trump who seems to be against working folks, who is about leaving people out, very divisive, and has been a loose cannon.”

Trump has courted some controversy recently for suggesting this week that a federal judge in San Diego hearing a lawsuit against the candidate’s Trump University has a conflict due to his Mexican heritage, accusing the jurist of bias because of the presumptive GOP nominee’s pledge to build a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Castro called Trump’s comments “appalling” and that the Republican has taken his party’s 2012 post-mortem recommendations for a more inclusive platform “and just torn that playbook up.”

“The thing is, today he’s talking about someone with Mexican heritage,” Castro said. “What is he going to talk about tomorrow? Somebody with some sort of Asian heritage or Jewish heritage or Catholic faith, that they can’t be unbiased if a certain question comes before them? What Donald Trump is showing is that he doesn’t embrace, doesn’t believe in the value of equality and treating people as individuals in America and taking them for who they are and not just putting them in a category.”

“It doesn’t matter what background you are,” he continued. “What Donald Trump did to that judge, what he said about him, should offend you because that’s not how our country has become the greatest country in the world.”

Castro, who told the crowd he hoped to watch this year’s election returns with his daughter and family in Texas, reiterated that he hasn’t been contacted about a potential spot as Clinton’s vice presidential candidate.

“There’s nothing going on right now,” he said. “… I’m confident she’ll select a running mate that brings great experience and qualities to the ticket.”

Castro wasn’t the only Democrat to take aim at Trump during Friday’s dinner.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who introduced Castro, recounted her own brief Twitter feud with the Republican after she declared Clinton the victor in a close primary in Kentucky against Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on May 17.

“Two weeks ago he came after me in a forum he spends, I think, too much time in — that would be Twitter,” Grimes said. “He had the audacity to question why it is I could call an election here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. … Folks, I responded with four words: Because I can count.”

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray was the lone speaker to refrain from Trump-bashing at the dinner, instead focusing his attacks on U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, whom he will face in the Nov. 8 election.

Gray said Paul is “big on talk, and you know this, but little on action.”

“There is one thing he’s done — he changed the rules, of course, so he could run for president and Senate at the same time,” Gray said. “Now, you have got my word. You’ve got my word: I am never running for president. And that’s a commitment you will never hear from Sen. Paul.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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