Julian Castro: Trump 'can't rise up to the challenge of leadership in these times'

Former HUD Secretary and 2020 presidential candidate Julian Castro responds to the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on "This Week."
4:51 | 08/04/19

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Transcript for Julian Castro: Trump 'can't rise up to the challenge of leadership in these times'
morning the shooting in El Paso yesterday is being investigated as a possible hate crime, a targeted attack on the Latino community. My next guest is the only Latino running for president. Julian Castro joins us live from his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Good morning, secretary Castro. I want to begin by asking you to respond to Mick Mulvaney. You heard him deny that the president's rhetoric is a factor at all in what happened here, that shootings like this are done simply by people who are sick in the head. Your response? It's so unfortunate that not only our president but his administration can't rise up to the challenge of leadership in these times. Anybody who has the ability to see and hear and understand what the president has been doing since he started his campaign in 2015 knows that division and bigotry and fanning the flames of hate has been his political strategy. That's how he believed -- he believes that he won in 2016. And it's no accident that just a few weeks after he announced his 2020 re-election bid there was he indulging and entertaining this "Send her back" chant. He's spoken about immigrants as being invaders. He's given license for this toxic brew of white supremacy to fester more and more in this country. We're seeing the results of that. I do agree with this, look, there's one person that's responsible directly for that shooting in El Paso and that's the shooter. At the same time, as our national leader you have a role to play in either fanning the flames of division or bringing Americans of different backgrounds together. Most presidents have chosen to try and bring people together. This president very early on made a clear choice to divide people for his own political benefit, and these are some of the consequences that we're seeing of that. The FBI is still investigating the motivations here and we heard Pierre Thomas say they've gotten closer to tying this shooter to the so-called manifesto that was published shortly before the shooting, but what is your read? Do you have any doubt that this was a hate crime? Look, the evidence that we have right now points to the idea that it was a hate crime. They're going to confirm that but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it was. The fact that he went to a Walmart where it was basically heavily hispanic shopping base there. The people who were shopping there are overwhelmingly Latino. It's right near the Mexican border. As somebody pointed out, I think you pointed out, you can literally see Mexico from the parking lot of this Walmart. So this shooter must have known what he was doing. And he wasn't from El Paso. He traveled from Allen, Texas, more than nine hours away to go specifically there. It was a very hispanic heavy area. So it certainly looks like a hate crime. Now the important thing is what are we going to do about it? Number one, we need leadership at every level starting with the president that will be big enough to try and bring people of different backgrounds together because we know that this shooter and his bigotry does not reflect the vast majority of Americans of any background. So with leadership we can try and unite and heal our country and tamp down this kind of bigotry and acting out among a few people. The second thing is we need to enact common sense gun reform. I just want your viewers to think about this. This happened in Texas where we have concealed carry, we have open carry, we have campus carry, we have one of the highest rates of gun ownership. That shooter knew that he was walking into a situation where a lot of folks there could be carrying a weapon. That didn't stop him. The answer is not more guns. The answer is to make sure that these weapons of war, these semiautomatic weapons, don't get into the hands of people who go and use them on the street and that we do a renewed assault weapons ban, universal become checks, red flag laws that can keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them that are going to be a danger to themselves or to somebody else, and that we limit the capacity of magazines. In one of these situations we don't want somebody to be able to get off 25 rounds in a heartbeat. All right, secretary Castro, I thank you for joining us on this difficult day. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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