Several Democratic allies say that during the search, the campaign will have to reckon with Mrs. Clinton’s high unfavorability numbers, which may create pressure to choose an inspiring figure like Julián Castro, the federal housing secretary, a rising star in the party.I'm focusing less on the notion that Clinton will pick Castro because her unfavorables are high, and more on the idea that Castro is "an inspiring figure." Is he? If so, inspiring to whom? Obviously, it would be significant if Clinton picks a Hispanic running mate -- but I'm worried that the Clinton campaign, and political insiders generally, think Castro is inspiring because he seems like someone who should be inspiring. My guess is that the vast majority of Americans, and even Hispanic Americans, haven't felt inspired by his story, simply because he appears to be a run-of-the-mill ambitious young pol who happens to be Hispanic, and he has a very low-profile job by D.C. standards, combined with adequate but not -- to make the obvious comparison -- Obama-level political skills.
Castro doesn't have a rags-to-riches story -- his father was a schoolteacher, and both parents were political activists -- and his family has been in America for nearly a century, since his grandmother came here from Mexico as an infant in 1920. That may be a very relatable story for Hispanic voters, but I don't know if it's inspiring. It's got less melodrama than Marco Rubio's story (immigrant parents who worked in menial service jobs) or even Ted Cruz's (not just immigration but parental substance abuse and paternal abandonment, all made right, we're told, through the intervention of Christ). And Rubio struggled in this campaign, while Cruz hasn't been able to close the sale.
Castro might be a fine running mate, and he'd give Democrats a ticket suitable for America in 2016. But this has been a bad year for candidates -- starting with Hillary Clinton -- who hoped they'd get a boost just from not being white males. (See, for instance, Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal.) So if it's Castro, I hope he has strengths we haven't seen yet.