- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2018

After blasting President Trump for his “erratic” decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro admitted Sunday that he would have done the same thing.

The difference is that he would have handled it differently, said Mr. Castro, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender.

“I think that many folks recognize that it was time for us to pull out of Syria; however, here’s the thing,” said Mr. Castro on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Once you’re there, you have to make sure that you have a plan for your operations there and also for your withdrawal.”

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Mr. Trump came under fire for announcing last week that he would pull U.S. troops from Syria, spurring the resignations of both Defense Secretary James Mattis and presidential special envoy for ISIS Brett McGurk.

Mr. Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary under President Barack Obama, said he would announced Jan. 12 on whether he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I’m not a big fan of the commitments America has made over these last 15 years, whether it was the Iraq war or this commitment,” said Mr. Castro.

At the same time, he said, the president should have a “solid plan for how you’re going to withdraw, and what we saw this week is not the way that it should be done.”

He questioned Mr. Trump’s fitness for office, citing the announced Syria withdrawal as an example, saying, “He’s just so erratic.”

“I can tell you one thing, he’s not behaving like he’s fit for office. He’s behaving extremely erratically,” Mr. Castro said. “He’s not giving the American people or our allies around the world any sense that there’s a rationale for the decisions that he’s making, and the events of this last week were just another example of that, whether it’s the sudden announcement of the withdrawal in Syria or the turmoil with his staff.”

Another Texas Democrat, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, is also weighing whether to run for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but Mr. Castro said there was room enough in the race for both of them.

“I have no doubt as you said that there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who are running this time,” Mr. Castro said, calling Mr. O’Rourke “a very talented, very impressive guy.”

Conservative radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt didn’t think much of Mr. Castro’s chances.

“I was just watching Julian Castro — he can’t beat Donald Trump. I’ll take any bet anyone wants to make,” Mr. Hewitt said on “Meet the Press.” “He could not beat Donald Trump. They’re not big enough. They’re going to have to go after a long list of achievements and a huge personality.”

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