People chanted "Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry!" as former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his identical twin brother Congressman Joaquin Castro stood at the back of the El Jardin restaurant in front of a massive "Texans for Hillary" sign. But it was clear supporting the Democratic presidential candidate wasn't the big draw on Monday morning.
About 150 people crammed into the restaurant, located on the east side of Harrisburg, to attend the Houston for Hillary get-out-the-vote campaign stop featuring the Castro twins as they swung through the city to whip up enthusiasm for Clinton on the eve of the election.
Joaquin Castro spoke first, reminding the audience what Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said and the kind of people he has gathered around him over the course of his run.
"Now, in this election that will happen tomorrow, this is our time to say enough is enough," Joaquin Castro said. "When the Republican Party puts up somebody like Donald Trump and allows somebody like Ted Nugent, who stood on stage with him yesterday — When you fill your party with people like them, you shouldn't be rewarded for it. Don't reward the Republican Party for nominating someone like Trump."
The pair work well together. They are also seriously difficult to tell apart. The brothers wore very similar, if not identical, shirts (Julian is the one with his shirt sleeves rolled up). Joaquin wore tan slacks while Julian wore jeans. ("He looks really good in those jeans too," one audience member observed as Julian walked away.)
When Julian Castro took his turn the former San Antonio mayor and current U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development focused on how incongruous Trump's style of rhetoric is with Texas sensibilities.
"Texas has always been about respect," Julian Castro told the crowd. "If there's one thing that's been missing with Donald Trump's campaign this year, it's that kind of respect that we have in Texas." He pointed out how Trump has insulted the Latino community, immigrants, Muslim Americans and women with troubling rhetoric and comments about all of the above, in ways that simply do not jibe with how we do things in the Lone Star State.
There were plenty of other big names in attendance. Congressmen Gene Green and Al Green were both decidedly visible at the shindig along with plenty of other Houston Democratic Party mainstays. But the Castros were the stars of the show, of course.
John Saenz stood on the edge of the audience, head tipped back, and lifting up his heels every so often to make himself tall enough to see over the crowd. He says he thinks Clinton will win on Tuesday, and that the Hispanic vote will be a major factor in securing the election for her. "I've never seen it like this before. Trump woke up a sleeping giant when he started talking about building a wall and calling us rapists," Saenz says. "People are mad, and they're voting against him. He woke up a giant."
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After everyone wrapped up stumping for Clinton, people clustered around the twins, waiting patiently while the pair conducted interviews in Spanish and English, for their chance to actually meet the two. "These guys are rising stars in the Democratic Party," Lynda Morales stage whispered as she nudged her way closer to get her picture taken. "I wanted to meet them now while I had the chance."
Around her, people had head-shots and napkins and all kinds of things for the brothers to sign. As they made their way out of the restaurant they were signing autographs and posing for photos every few steps.
Justice of the Peace Richard Vara shook his head, smiling, as he watched them go. On Monday he wore his Democratic tie, a blue tie printed with small red, white and blue donkeys on it. "I'm being partisan today but on Wednesday, the day after the election, I've got an American flag tie that I'm going to wear. It's been an ugly election but no matter how it turns out, the day after it's over we're all Americans still."
The people were chanting for Clinton — and also against Sen. Ted Cruz, apparently just because — and the Castro brothers talked with certainty about how they expect Harris County to go blue on Tuesday and Texas to follow suit and award its 38 electoral votes to Clinton. Texas going blue this election is looking increasingly unlikely based on the polls, and everything indicates that the one thing we know about this election is that it's going to be a tight race. But no matter who ends up taking the White House, it's pretty clear this probably won't be the last time we hear from the Castro brothers.