ADVOCATING OPENNESS. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton, left, is welcomed by representative Judy Chu
(D-California), before addressing Asian American and Pacific
Islander supporters in San Gabriel, California. (AP Photo/Damian
From The Asian Reporter, V26, #2 (January 18, 2016), page 7.
Clinton woos Asian Americans, slams Ďhatefulí GOP
By Christine Armario
The Associated Press
SAN GABRIEL, Calif. ó Democratic presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton recently courted Asian-American voters, telling members of the
nationís fastest growing racial minority that she disagrees with the
"hateful rhetoric" of her Republican challengers.
"They forget a fundamental lesson about our great country," she told
several hundred people gathered at a hotel ballroom in suburban Los
Angeles. "Being an open and tolerant society does not make us
vulnerable. Itís at the core of our strength."
Clintonís campaign stop in the San Gabriel Valley, an enclave home to
more than a half million Asian Americans, marked the launch of her
grassroots outreach to the growing pool of Asian Americans and Pacific
Islanders. Those voters have trended Democratic in recent presidential
elections, though they are still considered up for political grabs.
Their influence is considered critical in some swing states. But
California is not one of those, having voted for a Democrat for
president every election since 1992.
Republicans suggested Clintonís visit is more about raising campaign
Clinton made her appeal to Asian American and Pacific Islander voters
in a Southern California region where a number of cities are now
majority Asian American and store signs line the streets in Mandarin and
"Their party identity is not cast in stone," said Karthick
Ramakrishnan, a professor of public policy and political science at the
University of California, Riverside. "Thereís still potential for
In a half-hour speech, Clinton told constituents she would be the one
to fix the nationís broken immigration system, improve access to higher
education, and increase wages ó all issues considered top priorities for
the Asian-American electorate. She vowed to reduce the visa backlog and
help unauthorized immigrants with deep community ties that "deserve the
chance to stay."
"Ultimately this is more than an economic or political issue," she
said. "Itís a family issue."
Nearly 4 million Asians voted in the 2012 presidential election, a
547,000 increase over 2008. According to exit polls, nearly
three-quarters of Asian-American voters favored President Barack Obama
in the 2012 election. They comprised about three percent of the total
The Asian-American community has been the subject of relatively
little discussion in the Democratic and Republican primaries.
Clintonís message on immigration resonated with Alma Harrison, 52, a
human-resources director at the Hilton hotel where Clinton delivered her
remarks ó though she said she still hadnít decided who she would vote
"Right now Iím still listening to what everybody has to say," she
Several others at the rally said that while they planned to back
Clinton, their communities were somewhat divided.
"Some of them are strong Republicans because of religious issues,"
said Suzette Lopez, 60, a financial planner born in the Philippines who
now lives in the San Gabriel Valley. "They think Democrats are too
James Sobredo, 55, an ethnic studies professor at Sacramento State
University, travelled to the San Gabriel Valley with a busload of
Filipino voters from the San Francisco area, about six hours away. He
said Asian-American voters have long been perceived as outsiders, but
that he believes their political relevance and critical mass in
elections is finally starting to take hold.
"Weíre not as powerful as the Latino vote," he said, "but we have
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