Obama on Asian American Issues

See below for Obama’s positions on:
– Asian Pacific Americans the candidate has hired, appointed
or supported for election
– Affirmative Action and Quotas
– Employment discrimination, glass ceilings
– Making English the official language of the U.S.
– Foreign Policy toward China, Taiwan, India
, Japan, Korea, Vietnam .   Missile defense system to protect Japan , Taiwan , or South Korea
– Hate Crimes. Legislation increasing penalties for hate crimes.
– Immigration
– Voting rights and providing ballots in different languages. 

Congratulations to the Obama Department of Justice for being named to the Hall of Shame!  Obama persecuted 8 Asian Americans!  See details here.

Asian Pacific Americans the candidate has hired, appointed or supported for election

5/3/16 NBC News: “50 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders of the Obama Administration”
by Benjamin To
2016 marks the final year of an administration that has been touted as the most diverse in American history, according to a UC Berkeley study reported on by the Washington Post.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, NBC Asian America spoke with fifty of the many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in President Barack Obama’s administration, who served in capacities from the Department of Homeland Security to the National Endowment of the Arts.

Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veteran Affairs
Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy
Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce, then Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
Chris Lu, Cabinet secretary (former Legislative Director of Obama’s senate office)
1/8/14: nominated Chris Lu as Deputy Secretary of Labor
5/23/13: Sri Srinivasan confirmed as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
4/22/10: Denny Chin confirmed as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit
5/7/12: Jacqueline Nguyen confirmed as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit
8/1/13: Raymond T. Chen confirmed as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
2/25/16: nominated Judge Lucy H. Koh to serve on the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
3/22/10: nominated Goodwin Liu as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit
11/2/11: nominated Brigadier General Coral Wong Pietsch, USA (Ret) to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
6/22/15: Amit Mehta, sworn in as judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
3/5/14: Vince Chhabria confirmed as judge to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
4/18/13: Derrick Kahala Watson confirmed as judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii
3/4/13: Pamela Chen confirmed as judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
12/13/12: Lorna Schofield (Filipino- American) confirmed as judge to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
5/7/12: John Z. Lee confirmed as U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois
3/28/12: Miranda Du confirmed as U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Nevada
5/10/11: Edward Chen confirmed as Federal District Court Judge for the Northern District of California (San Francisco)
12/18/10: Edmond E-Min Chang confirmed as U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois
12/18/10: Leslie Kobayashi confirmed as U.S. District Judge for Hawaii
6/7/10 Lucy Koh confirmed as U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California (San Jose)
12/24/09: Dolly Gee confirmed as U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District of California (Los Angeles)
12/1/09: Jacqueline Nguyen confirmed as U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District of California (Los Angeles)
6/6/16: Jennifer Choe Groves confirmed as judge to U.S. Court of International Trade
4/28/16: nominated Florence Pan for U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia
3/15/16: nominated Karen Gren Scholer for U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas
9/25/13: nominated Theodore Chuang for U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Maryland
9/24/13: nominated Ms. Indira Talwani for U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts
9/19/13: nominated Manish Suresh Shah for U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois
7/25/13: nominated Vince Chhabria for U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California
3/10/15: Michelle K. Lee confirmed as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Lee is the first woman and person of color to lead the USPTO.
10/6/10 Pete Rouse as White House chief of staff
4/17/12: Jim Yong Kim, MD as president of the World Bank
7/23/13: nominated Kent Hirozawa to the National Labor Relations Board
7/19/13: nominated Ms. Nisha Biswal as assistant secretary of state for South Asia Bureau
6/25/11: nominated Mr. Sung Kim as ambassador to South Korea
11/14/13: nominated Vivek Murthy, MD (Harvard Medical School instructor) as surgeon general
6/20/13: appointed Nicole Wong (Twitter’s legal director of products) as deputy U.S. chief technology officer
11/28/09: Dr. Rajiv Shah as Administrator of the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID).
3/14/14: nominated Nani A. Coloretti as Deputy Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 3/14/14: nominated Erika Lizabeth Moritsugu as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations, Department of Housing and Urban Development.
nominated Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General, but Gupta declined
3/13/14: nominated Dr. Jane Chu to head the National Endowment for the Arts
1/28/09: Ms. Preeta D. Bansal, General Counsel and Senior Adviser
at the Office of Management and Budget
Neal Katyal, Principal Deputy Solicitor General
6/25/09: Harold Koh as legal adviser to the Department of State
2/7/09: Nicholas Rathod as one of three Deputy Associate Directors of
the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (Indian American lawyer)
10/30/09: Yul Kwon as Deputy Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau,
Federal Communications Commission (attorney, community leader and “Survivor” winner)
2/3/09: Ivan K. Fong as Homeland Security General Counsel.
(former Chief Legal Officer and Secretary for Cardinal Health)
2/2/09: Tammy Duckworth, Veteran Affairs: assistant secretary of
public and intergovernmental affairs.
8/11/09: Preet Bharara as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
5/20/16: nominated Sung Y. Kim, as ambassador to the Philippines
Betsy Kim, White House liaison officer to the Defense Department.
Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff

3/10/08 Associated Press: When Aurora Abella-Austriaco (D), a Filipino-
American, ran for Trustee of the Maine Township (Illinois) three years ago,
Senator Barack Obama personally campaigned for her.

Affirmative Action and Quotas

Bans on affirmative action in college admissions benefit Asian Americans.
1/30/08 The Chronicle of Higher Education: “”Bans on Affirmative Action Help Asian Americans,
Not Whites, Report Says”.  See Reverse Discrimination

9/8/12 Front Page Mag: Obamacare Discriminates against Asian American Applicants to Medical Schools
(original headline: Obamacare bakes in racial quotas)
by Daniel Greenfield
Under Obamacare, if a medical or dental school wants to increase its chances of receiving many different
kinds of grants and contracts from the federal government, it should “have a record of training individuals
who are from underrepresented minority groups” or “from underrepresented minorities.”
The goal of a good medical school should be to:
A. Produce good doctors regardless of race
B. Grant special preferences to doctors from minority groups
Affirmative action is bad enough because it means adopting a racist system, but racial preferences
promote incompetence because you once begin selecting people based on skin color, qualifications fall out
of the picture. And that�s bad news in many fields, but it�s lethal in medicine where the difference between
a competent doctor and a doctor who got in because he fit a quota is a live or dead patient.
Under ObamaCare, if a medical or dental school wants to increase its chances of receiving many
different kinds of grants and contracts from the federal government, it should “have a record of training
individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups” or “from underrepresented minorities.”
This is because ObamaCare requires the secretary of health and human services to give priority to the
entities that have demonstrated such a record in the awarding of these grants and contracts to medical
and dental schools and other entities.

12/2/11 Chronicle on Higher Education: “Obama Administration Supports Reverse Discrimination Against
Asian Americans,” (original headline: Obama Administration Gives Colleges Broad Leeway on Affirmative
By Peter Schmidt
Washington: The Obama administration on Friday released its first guidelines on affirmative action in
higher education. In doing so, it showed that it takes an expansive view of the educational benefits of
diversity and intends to give colleges and universities considerable leeway in determining whether they
can achieve desired levels of diversity without explicitly considering applicants’ ethnicity or race.
The Education and Justice Departments jointly released the guidelines, which were accompanied by
separate guidance from the two agencies on the integration of elementary and secondary schools. In issuing
the new guidance, the two agencies said they were repealing the last round of such guidelines from the
Education Department, issued under President George W. Bush in March 2008. That document had
angered some advocates for minority students by appearing to discourage the use of affirmative action,
telling colleges receiving federal aid that they may not consider race in admissions unless it is “essential”
to their “mission and stated goals.”
The new guidelines, which drew praise on Friday from some of the same civil-rights groups that had
objected to the old ones, appeared to actively encourage colleges to consider applicants’ race if it was
deemed necessary to achieve diversity. “Ensuring that our nation’s students are provided with learning
environments comprised of students of diverse backgrounds is not just a lofty ideal,” the document argues.
The benefits of students’ participation in diverse educational environments, it says, “greatly contribute to
the educational, economic, and civic life of this nation.”
The release of the new guidelines comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is being urged by critics of
affirmative action to take up a lawsuit challenging a decision by the University of Texas at Austin to
revive its consideration of applicants’ race and ethnicity in undergraduate admissions.
The Obama administration weighed in on behalf of the University of Texas before the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, strongly endorsing Texas’ argument that it needed race-conscious admissions
policies because a state law guaranteeing admission to students at the top of their high-school classes
had not provided the university with sufficient levels of diversity to reap the educational benefits it sought.
The Obama administration is expected to take steps before the Supreme Court to try to keep that ruling
from being overturned.
Several Fifth Circuit judges who disagreed with that court’s decision issued a strongly worded dissent,
echoed in the plaintiff’s request for a Supreme Court hearing. They argued that the appellate court’s ruling
showed too much deference to the views of college administrators and failed to consider the success of
the state’s class-rank-based admission guarantee as an alternative to the university’s consideration of race.
The guidelines issued by the Obama administration on Friday suggest, however, that it does not plan
to be in the business of second-guessing colleges’ decisions on such matters. “Institutions are not required
to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable,” the new
guidelines say. “In some cases,” they add, “race-neutral approaches will be unworkable because they will
be ineffective to achieve the diversity the institution seeks. Institutions may also reject approaches that
would require them to sacrifice a component of their educational mission or priorities,” such as academic

12/17/09 National Review U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Weighs in on the Senate Health-Care Bill,
by Roger Clegg
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has sent a letter to various leading senators objecting to
“racially discriminatory provisions” in the Senate’s health-care bill, like coercing medical schools and
others into using racially preferential admission policies. The Commission had already noted the same
constitutional problems in the House version.

6/10/08 USA Today: Obama campaign spokesperson Candice Toliver: “Senator Obama believes in a
country in which opportunity is available to all Americans, regardless of race, gender or economic status.
That’s why he opposes these ballot initiatives, which would roll back opportunity for millions of Americans
and cripple efforts to break down historic barriers to the progress of qualified women and minorities.”
She was referring to state ballot initiatives which would ban public agencies and universities from
discriminating against or giving preference to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color,
ethnicity or national origin.

When Michigan proposed Proposition 2 which outlawed affirmative action based on ethnicity, race or
gender in public institutions, Obama taped an ad denouncing Proposition 2 and endorsed affirmative
action for minorities and women.

4/16/08 Pennsylvania debate. Transcript from The Morning Call. http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-debate-transcript-041708,0,2860758.story?page=20
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama, last May we talked about affirmative action, and you said at the time that affluent African- Americans, like your daughters, should probably be treated as pretty advantaged when they apply to college and that poor, white children, kids, should get special consideration, affirmative action.
So as president, how specifically would you recommend changing affirmative action policies so that affluent African-Americans are not given advantages and poor, less affluent whites are?
OBAMA: Well, I think that the basic principle that should guide discussions not just of affirmative action, but how we are admitting young people to college generally, is how do we make sure that we’re providing ladders of opportunity for people? How do we make sure that every child in America has a decent shot in pursuing their dreams?
And race is still a factor in our society. And I think that for universities and other institutions to say, “You know, we’re going to take into account the hardships that somebody has experienced because they’re black or Latino or because they’re a woman”…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if they’re wealthy?
OBAMA: … I think that’s something that they can take into account, but it can only be in the context of looking at the whole situation of the young person.
So if they look at my child, and they say, “You know, Malia and Sasha, they’ve had a pretty good deal,” then that shouldn’t be factored in.
On the other hand, if there’s a young white person, who has been working hard, struggling, and has overcome great odds, that’s something that should be taken into account.
So I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can’t be a quota system and it can’t be something that is simply applied without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black, or white, or Hispanic, male or female.
What we want to do is make sure that people who’ve been locked out of opportunity are going to be able to walk through those doors of opportunity in the future.

Making English the official language of the U.S.

Voted No
To amend title 4 United States Code, to declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens.
May 18, 2006, vote 131, Senate Amendment 4064 to S. 2611

Foreign Policy. Like Americans of African, Cuban, Greek, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Mexican, and Polish descent, many APA’s are interested in American foreign policy toward the country of their ancestors.

U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan

2/10/12 Washington Free Beacon: “China Probes Police Official After Obama Administration
Rejected Asylum Request; Congressman Pledges Investigation, Sees Pattern of Obama
Administration Failing To Aid U.S. Allies,”
by Bill Gertz
The Obama administration rebuffed a senior Chinese police official in southern China who sought
to defect, turning him away after his presence became known to Chinese security forces.
An administration official familiar with China affairs said the botched defection of Wang Lijun, a vice
mayor and chief crime investigator in Chongquing, was mishandled not only by local American officials in
China but also by White House and State Department officials in Washington unwilling to upset China
by granting Wang refuge in the consulate.

9/23/11: upgraded Taiwan’s aging F-16 fighters rather than selling it new F-16 C/D models.

7/5/07 Financial Times: Obama co-sponsored legislation that would levy punitive duties on Chinese goods
to cajole Beijing into revaluing its currency. In a separate letter sent recently to Hank Paulson, US Treasury
secretary, Mr. Obama warned that the “administration’s refusal to take strong action against China’s currency manipulation will also make it more difficult to obtain congressional approval” for free trade agreements.

4/27/07 New York Times: Democratic debate: We also have to look east, because increasingly the center
of gravity in this world is shifting to Asia . Japan has been an outstanding ally of ours for many years, but
obviously China is rising, and it’s not going away. They’re neither our enemy nor our friend. They’re
competitors. But we have to make sure that we have enough military-to-military contact and forge enough
of a relationship with them that we can stabilize the region. That’s something I’d like to do as president.

4/23/07 Remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs: In Asia, the emergence of an economically
vibrant, more politically active China offers new opportunities for prosperity and cooperation, but also
poses new challenges for the United States and our partners in the region. It is time for the United States
to take a more active role here – to build on our strong bilateral relations and informal arrangements like
the Six Party talks. As President, I intend to forge a more effective regional framework in Asia that will
promote stability, prosperity and help us confront common transnational threats such as tracking down
terrorists and responding to global health problems like avian flu.

4/23/07 Remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Such steps are not just environmental priorities,
they are critical to our security. America must take decisive action in order to more plausibly demand
the same effort from others. We should push for binding and enforceable commitments to reduce
emissions by the nations which pollute the most – the United States , the European Union, Russia,
China , and India together account for nearly two-thirds of current emissions. And we should help
ensure that growth in developing countries is fueled by low-carbon energy – the market for which could
grow to $500 billion by 2050 and spur the next wave of American entrepreneurship.

U.S. policy toward India

4/23/07 Remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Such steps are not just environmental
priorities, they are critical to our security. America must take decisive action in order to more
plausibly demand the same effort from others. We should push for binding and enforceable
commitments to reduce emissions by the nations which pollute the most –  the United States ,
the European Union, Russia , China , and India together account for nearly two-thirds of current
emissions. And we should help ensure that growth in developing countries is fueled by low-carbon
energy – the market for which could grow to $500 billion by 2050 and spur the next wave of American

U.S. policy toward Japan

April 2012: moved half of U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii and and other Asian-Pacific sites, easing tension with Japan..

4/27/07 New York Times: Democratic debate: We also have to look east, because increasingly the
center of gravity in this world is shifting to Asia . Japan has been an outstanding ally of ours for many
years, but obviously China is rising, and it’s not going away. They�re neither our enemy nor our friend.
They’re competitors. But we have to make sure that we have enough military-to-military contact and
forge enough of a relationship with them that we can stabilize the region. That’s something I’d like to
do as president.

U.S. policy toward Korea

1/14/13: signed into law HR 1464/S 416, the North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012

6/4/08 The Korea Times: “Obama, McCain Differ on Korea Policy,”
By Michael Ha
South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
Obama has said the current Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) should not be ratified and has suggested that the deal be renegotiated. He has said the accord does not do enough to address concerns of American autoworkers. Organized labor unions, including the autoworkers’ unions, are some of the biggest supporters of the Democratic Party.
In an open letter to U.S. President George W. Bush last month, Obama said there would be “a major fight over a free trade agreement with South Korea” if President Bush sends the trade agreement to the U.S. Congress.
“Senator Obama does not support the South Korea free trade agreement in its current form,” according to his campaign platform. “He is also troubled that the Bush Administration has not done more to help American workers who are losing their jobs as a result of the changing world economy.”
North Korean Conundrum
Obama said he would seek a new framework for partnerships in Asia that move beyond ad hoc meetings such as the current six-party talks. “Obama will forge a more effective framework in Asia that goes beyond bilateral agreements, occasional summits, and ad hoc arrangements, such as the six-party talks on North Korea,” according to his Web site.
“Obama will maintain strong ties with allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia; work to build an infrastructure with countries in East Asia that can promote stability and prosperity; and work to ensure that China plays by international rules.”
He also said he would crack down on nuclear proliferation by strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that countries like North Korea that break the rules will “automatically face strong international sanctions.”
Obama has said during his campaign speeches that he may be willing to sit down face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il if that’s what it takes to resolve the continuing nuclear tension on the Korean peninsula.
Obama has acknowledged the critical role the South Korea-U.S. alliance has played during the Cold War and beyond. But he said the alliance has been tested in recent years. “The alliance has been a remarkably strong and successful one. Forged in blood during the Korean War more than a half-century ago, the alliance has sustained itself through the crucible of the Cold War and remains central to U.S. security policy in East Asia,” he has said, according to the U.S. Congressional Web site.
“Nonetheless, I do not think it is an overstatement to say that the U.S.-Korea relationship has been adrift in recent years.”

5/26/08 Bloomberg.com: “Obama’s Korea Trade Deal Objection Is Political, Minister Says,”
By Heejin Koo
Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s objection to a trade agreement with South Korea is “politically motivated,” the Asian nation’s trade minister said.
“Trade becomes an unpopular topic once it is tied up in a political agenda,” Kim Jong Hoon said on KBS-1 Radio.
Obama, the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a May 22 letter to President George W. Bush that pushing for the agreement is “misguided.” Obama has criticized such accords in his campaign, saying he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico .
The U.S.-South Korea trade accord, the biggest for the U.S. since Nafta in 1994, was signed last June. The Bush administration still hasn’t submitted the proposal to Congress. Lawmakers such as Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, say they won’t consider it until South Korea drops all its restrictions on U.S. beef, which the Asian nation has said it will do.

2/21/08 Wall Street Journal, p. A2: Opposes free trade treaty with South Korea

4/23/07 Remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs: As starting points, the world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and work to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. If America does not lead, these two nations could trigger regional arms races that could accelerate nuclear proliferation on a global scale and create dangerous nuclear flashpoints. In pursuit of this goal, we must never take the military option off the table. But our first line of offense here must be sustained, direct and aggressive diplomacy. For North Korea, that means ensuring the full implementation of the recent agreement. For Iran, it means getting the UN Security Council, Europe, and the Gulf States to join with us in ratcheting up the economic pressure.

U.S. policy toward Vietnam

Missile defense system to protect Japan, Taiwan, or South Korea

10/7/12 New York Times: “U.S. Agrees to Let South Korea Extend Range of Ballistic Missiles,”
By Choe Sang-Hun
Seoul, South Korea: South Korea has reached an agreement with the United States that lets it more
than double the range of its ballistic missiles to counter what it considers to be a growing threat from
North Korea.
The revised agreement, which also tries to address the United States’ worries about a regional arms
race, increases the payload the ballistic missiles can carry and allows South Korea to develop and deploy
more powerful unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, that can carry more reconnaissance equipment and
Under the revised guidelines, South Korea can deploy ballistic missiles with a range of up to 800
kilometers, or about 500 miles, enough to reach any target in North Korea but not enough to be considered
a threat to China or Japan, as long as the payload does not exceed 500 kilograms, about half a ton. Seoul
can also load warheads weighing up to two tons on ballistic missiles with shorter ranges.
The new agreement allows South Korea to use drones that can carry up to 2.5 tons of equipment and
weapons. Drones have emerged as a powerful weapon in modern warfare and can be configured to fly
higher than most conventional warplanes, making them harder to shoot down, according to military experts.
South Korea began deploying low-flying reconnaissance drones in 2002.
North Korea has already deployed a number of missiles, including some capable of hitting the American
territory of Guam, in addition to South Korea and Japan, the United States’ two main allies in Asia. In April,
North Korea launched its Unha-3 rocket. Although the long-range rocket failed to put a satellite into orbit,
the United States and its allies condemned the launching as a cover for developing intercontinental ballistic
American restrictions on ballistic missiles do not apply to South Korean cruise missiles.
In April, South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development confirmed that it had developed and deployed
a new cruise missile, Hyunmoo-3, that is capable of striking targets anywhere in North Korea. Hyunmoo-3
is said to have a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, about 930 miles. But ballistic missiles fly faster and are
thus harder to intercept, according to missile specialists.

9/17/12 Associated Press: “Panetta: US-Japan agree on new missile system,”
by Lolita C. Baldor
Tokyo (AP): U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that U.S. and Japanese officials
have agreed to put a second missile defense system in Japan.
The exact location of the installation has not yet been determined. It will be in the south, officials said,
but not in Okinawa.
Officials stressed that the radar system is aimed at protecting the region against the threat from
North Korea missiles and is not directed at China.
The U.S. already has similar early warning radar systems on ships in the Asia-Pacific.
This second Japan-based system will allow ships to spread out and cover other parts of the region.
Panetta said the new system would also be effective in protecting the U.S. homeland from the North
Korea threat. He spoke during a press conference in Tokyo with the Japanese defense minister.
While officials insisted the radar system is not aimed at China, the decision is sure to raise the ire of
North Korea’s ballistic missiles are considered a threat to security in the Asia-Pacific region because
of the risk of conflict erupting on the divided and heavily militarized Korean peninsula, and because of the
secretive North’s nuclear weapons program.

7/16/07 press release: Obama Statement on Visit of Polish President Lech Kaczynski
5. Prudently but decisively prepare for emerging threats. “The Bush Administration has been developing plans to deploy interceptors and radar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of a missile defense system designed to protect against the potential threat of Iranian nuclear armed missiles. If we can responsibly deploy missile defenses that would protect us and our allies we should � but only when the system works. We need to make sure any missile defense system would be effective before deployment. The Bush Administration has in the past exaggerated missile defense capabilities and rushed deployments for political purposes. The Bush Administration has also done a poor job of consulting its NATO allies about the deployment of a missile defense system that has major implications for all of them. We must not allow this issue to divide “new Europe” and “old Europe,” as the Bush Administration tried to do over Iraq .”

Hate Crimes. Legislation increasing penalties for hate crimes.

10/28/09: Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law,
allowing the Department of Justice to prosecute crimes motivated by a person’s actual or perceived gender,
gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.


9/12/12 Christian Science Monitor: “Obama vs. Romney 101: 5 ways they differ on immigration,”
by Daniel B. Wood
Immigration could be a pivotal issue in the 2012 presidential race, and Barack Obama knows it.
Mr. Obama’s positions on immigration issues, such as a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and
greater discretion in deportations, are in line with those favored by most Latino voters. Republican
challenger Mitt Romney has tried to cast himself somewhere between the staunchest anti-illegal
immigration activists of his party and Obama.

6/15/12 Yahoo! News: “Obama explains new immigration plan,”
By Liz Goodwin
President Barack Obama explained his administration’s decision to allow as many as 800,000 young
illegal immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and work permits.
“They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one–on paper,” he said of
the young illegal immigrants who will be affected by his plan. The sweeping proposal allows immigrants
without criminal records who are under 30 years old, entered the country as children, have graduated
from a U.S. high school and can prove they’ve lived in the country for five consecutive years to apply for
temporary legal status and then two-year, renewable work permits. It does not provide them a path to
citizenship. In his speech, Obama stressed that the move is “not amnesty,” and he thinks Congress
should still pass a broader legalization bill.

3/30/12 Los Angeles Times: “Obama proposes new rule for immigrant families Illegal immigrants who are immediate relatives of citizens could stay in the U.S. while applying for permanent residency.  The goal is to reduce a family’s time apart.”
by Brian Bennett
Washington: The Obama administration is proposing to make it easier for illegal immigrants who
are immediate family members of American citizens to apply for permanent residency, a move that
could affect as many as 1 million of the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
The new rule, which the Department of Homeland Security will post for public comment Monday,
would reduce the time illegal immigrants are separated from their American families while seeking
legal status, immigration officials said. Currently, such immigrants must leave the country to apply for
a legal visa, often leading to long stints away as they await resolution of their applications.
The president’s push to pass the Dream Act, a law that would have created a path to citizenship
for young illegal immigrants enrolled in college or enlisted in the military, was defeated in the Senate
in December. No reform legislation has been under serious consideration since, yet the U.S. has
deported a record number of illegal immigrants under Obama.
Many immigrants who might seek legal status do not pursue it out of fear they will not receive a
“hardship waiver” of strict U.S. immigration laws: An illegal immigrant who has overstayed a visa for
more than six months is barred from reentering the U.S. for three years; those who overstay more than
a year are barred for 10 years.
The revised rule would allow illegal immigrants to claim that time apart from a spouse, child or
parent who is a U.S. citizen would create “extreme hardship,” and would permit them to remain in the
country as they apply for legal status. Once approved, applicants would be required to leave the U.S.
briefly, simply to return to their native country and pick up their visa.
The change could reduce a family’s time apart to one week in some cases, officials said.
The White House hopes to have the new procedures in place by the end of the year.
Hundreds of thousands of the estimated 2.5 million illegal immigrants in California could benefit
from the proposed change, according to immigration activists.
U.S. immigration officials state the revision affects only how the applications are processed, not
whether the legal status ultimately is granted.
The White House has previously made other administrative changes, such as a policy announced
in June that gave prosecutors new authority to put on hold cases against immigration violators who
have strong ties to the U.S. and no criminal record. The “discretion policy” encouraged immigration
agents to focus on the removal of illegal immigrants who pose a threat to public safety or are repeat
immigration law violators.
A program intended to cull so-called “low priority” cases from immigration courts began in Denver
and Baltimore early this year and is being expanded to six other cities across the U.S. over the next
four months, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The more-targeted approach hasn’t reduced the total number of people being deported annually
from the U.S. Last year, 396,906 people were deported, a record number for the third consecutive
year, and many of the deportees were relatives of U.S. citizens. In the first half of last year alone,
immigration officials deported more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizens, according to U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
For some immigrants, the danger of returning to their home country for a long period discourages
them from seeking legal status.
After the administration’s new proposal is posted in the Federal Register on Monday, the public
will have 60 days to critique the change.

1/6/12 Washington Times: “Obama expands hardship waiver for illegal immigrants,”
by Stephen Dinan
The Obama administration on Friday proposed new hardship rules that would make it easier for
illegal immigrants to apply for legal status and stay in the country if they have a spouse or parent
already living here legally.
Homeland Security officials, who announced the change in the Federal Register, said the change
only applies when an illegal immigrant has a family member living in the U.S. legally and who would
be subject to “hardship” if they were separated from each other.
Under the current system, it takes an average of six months for the government to judge waiver
cases, and illegal immigrant applicants are required to go home during that period. The new rule
means the illegal immigrant can stay in the U.S. during the adjudication period.
Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the new rules
wouldn’t change who ends up getting legal status, but only lets those who are applying stay in the
U.S. while those applications are pending. Those hoping to take advantage would still have to
return to their home country to pick up their visa.
Mr. Mayorkas said his agency is not expanding the number of people who would be eligible for
waivers, but rather allowing applicants to wait in the U.S. while those waivers are being processed.
Under the previous system, they would have had to go home for an average of six months while the
waiver was being processed.  His agency received about 23,000 hardship waiver applications in
fiscal year 2011, and approved about 17,000 of them.
President Obama has tried to take steps over the last year to ease fears of rank-and-file illegal
immigrants that they could be deported, even as his administration steps up its efforts to go after
illegal immigrants who have been arrested for other crimes, who are members of gangs or who
have multiple immigration violations on their record.
The department reported a record number of deportations in fiscal year 2011, with an ever-higher
percentage coming from those targeted categories.

3/2/08 Dallas Morning News: “Candidates promote moderation in immigration reform” by Dianne Solis and David McLemore
Obama supports an overhaul of immigration laws that would toughen border security and allow a portion of the estimated 12 million people here illegally to gain legal status. He would not deport all illegal immigrants. Obama said he has experience on the issue, after helping push a reform bill out of the Senate two years ago that died in the House. He said he would try to help elect more legislators “sympathetic to solving the problem.”
He voted in favor of building a wall along the border with Mexico but said in the Democratic debate in Austin that he wants to re-examine the merits of that.  He recently told reporters he could succeed where Mr. Bush has failed because the Senate would gain more people “who are sympathetic to solving the problem as opposed to using it as a political football.” And, he said, he would “use the president’s bully pulpit more effectively to explain what our choices are.”

Voting rights and providing ballots in different languages. 

5/8/12 Remarks by the President at the 18th Annual Gala for the Asian Pacific American Institute for
Congressional Studies

11/3/12 Politico.com: “Obama’s commitment to Asian-Americans,”
By: Rep. Judy Chu
President Obama knows that America is and always will be a Pacific nation and that, in the 21st century, it is more important than ever that the United States play a role in shaping the future of the Asia-Pacific region. No other U.S. President in history has had such a deep understanding of the vibrancy of Asia. But that’s no surprise. As he said earlier this year: “When I think about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, I think about my family.”

9/17/12 The Korea Times: “Korean-American voters for Obama,”
by Jane Han
New York ― With less than 50 days left till the U.S. presidential election, it’s unclear how swing
voters and swing states will tilt the vote in a remarkably stable, yet tight race. But it seems as if
Korean-Americans have generally decided which candidate they’re going to stand behind come

4/27/09 AFP: “Obama the first Asian-American president?”
Washington (AFP): Barack Obama made history as the first African-American president but in his first 100 days he has also shown himself to be America ‘s most Asian leader yet, community members say.
Obama appointed a record three Asian-Americans cabinet members and quickly focused his attention across the Pacific. He invited Japan ‘s prime minister as his first guest and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went
to Asia on her maiden trip.
At home, Asian-American leaders have welcomed signs Obama will take political risks to revamp the immigration system, whose rigid rules and creaky pace are blamed by many in the community for tearing apart
“In a nutshell, he has done more in 100 days than the last administration has done in eight years,” said Representative Mike Honda, who heads the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Honda, a member of Obama’s Democratic Party, told AFP he expected the president to take up immigration reforms after May.
He also applauded Obama for signing a measure giving nearly 200 million dollars in back pay to aging World War II veterans from the Philippines, who fought alongside US forces but were stripped of benefits in 1946.
Obama through his background “understands what it means to be inclusive and to be on the other side,” Honda said.
“It just makes me smile and makes me proud that we have someone like him as the American face,” said Honda, who was interned as a child in a World War II camp for Japanese-Americans.
Obama has a deep personal connection with Asia, having spent part of his childhood in Jakarta . His sister is partly of Indonesian descent; her husband in turn is of Chinese heritage.
“Sometimes I jokingly say that this is the most Asian-American president that we will have,” said Helen Zia, a prominent Asian-American scholar and activist.
“He recognizes what it means to be bicultural or bilingual — that it’s something we can contribute to America rather than being seen as a potential enemy or alien,” she said.
She said there was “poetic justice” that one of the Asian-American members of the Obama cabinet, Steven Chu, heads the Department of Energy.
In 1999, the then energy secretary, Bill Richardson, accused Taiwanese-born scientist Wen Ho Lee of stealing secrets from Los Alamos National Laboratory — the birthplace of the atomic bomb — to give to communist
China .
Lee spent nine months in solitary confinement before the government dropped all charges against him other than carelessness with sensitive documents.
To the dismay of some Asian-Americans, Obama initially named Richardson to be commerce secretary. Richardson bowed out due to an unrelated controversy and Obama replaced him with Gary Locke, a
The other Asian-American in the cabinet is Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, a retired general.
In foreign policy, Obama has moved quickly to assure Japan that it is a cornerstone US ally and pledged to develop a broader relationship with a growing China .
“Much of our American history and policy-making has emphasized relationships across the Atlantic ,” Zia said. “But we know that this will be the century of the Pacific.”
Bob Lee, a retired telecom executive and former chair of the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American group, said he was encouraged by Obama’s early dealings with Beijing .
He was hopeful that Obama would disagree “collegially” when disputes crop up with China on issues ranging from the environment to human rights.
“Every Chinese-American I know is very loyal to this country,” Lee said. “But when there are problems between China and the United States it creates a very concerning picture as it spills over onto us.”
Asian-American representation is also growing among Republicans. Voters in Louisana last year elected Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao as the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress.
The conservative southern state also has an Indian-American governor, Bobby Jindal, seen by many as a rising star in Republican politics.
“When growing up as an Indian-American, there were two choices — to be a doctor or an engineer,” said Sanjay Puri, chairman of the US Indian Political Action Committee.
“But now it’s really become cool to be in the political environment.”

10/14/08 indiawest.com: “Obama Targets Asian American Voters in Battleground States,”
by Richard Springer
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is making an “unprecedented” push to target Asian American voters in Virginia and other battleground states, Betsy Kim, deputy director of Obama’s Asian American and
Pacific Islander voter outreach effort, told reporters in a conference call from Virginia Sept. 30.
Kim and Democratic National Committee co-chair Congressman Mike Honda, D-Calif., listed Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Nevada, Colorado and Florida as key battleground
states where the Obama campaign has Asian American staff heading voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives in Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
Kim pointed out that in a state like Virginia , where the approximately 370,000 Asian Americans make up five percent of the state’s population, there are areas like Fairfax County , where Asian Americans constitute
about 15 percent of the population.
A similar situation exists in Nevada , where Asian Americans are about six percent of the state population, but 8.4 percent in Clark County .
Kim said the Obama for America team has appointed AAPI field directors and organizers leading multilingual volunteers who greet voters with brochures in Asian languages, including Hindi, Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog.
Honda emphasized that Asians Americans have been increasingly voting with the Democratic Party since the 1992 election. He said Asian Americans who register to vote, tend to go to the polls on Election Day, but there is still a lot of work to be done getting Asian Americans registered.
Honda stated that Obama “understands the plight of immigrants.”
Chris Lu, chief of staff of Obama’s Senate office in Washington and senior advisor of Obama for America , said that the first bill the Illinois senator sponsored in the Senate mandated an increase in Pell college
grants. He pointed out that affording a college education is a hot-button issue for Asian Americans and Obama has a comprehensive plan to increase education funding.
Asked to identify key Democratic races in Congress, Honda quickly cited Ashwin Madia’s campaign for Congress in Minnesota’s 3rd District in suburban Minneapolis .
Honda also mentioned the “macaca” comment by former Republican Senator George Allen in Virginia that enraged Indian Americans and helped cause Allen’s defeat by Senator Jim Webb in 2006.

10/6/08 San Jose Mercury News: “Obama leads McCain among Asian-Americans, but one-third are undecided,”
By Frank Davies
Asian-American voters support Barack Obama over John McCain by a substantial margin, but as many as a third are still undecided and could have an impact on the race in swing states, says the largest survey of Asian ethnic groups conducted this year.
The study, conducted by four universities and released Monday, found that 41 percent of Asian-Americans support Obama and 24 percent McCain, with 34 percent undecided. In breakdowns by country of origin,
all groups favored Obama except Vietnamese, a traditionally Republican community that backs McCain over Obama 51 percent to 24 percent.
Asian-Americans “are the quintessential swing vote, and a large chunk of them have not made up their minds,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, who studies immigration at the University of California-Riverside.
Because two-thirds of Asian-American voters plan to vote next month, and so many are undecided, they could play an important role in close battleground states such as Virginia, Florida and Nevada, the researchers
said. Most national surveys show less than 10 percent of all voters are undecided.
Rep. Mike Honda, a San Jose Democrat who is Japanese-American, said the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign are trying to reach more Asian-American voters.
“We’re working with community groups, getting materials out in seven languages, and we hope to get some radio and TV” in battleground states, said Honda, a Democratic National Committee vice chairman who is
planning trips to Florida and Virginia.
After a recent influx in Santa Clara County, Asian-Americans make up 30 percent of the county’s population. They have long had an impact in the Bay Area and the state, but their clout is smaller in many other states.
Asian-Americans tend not to be as politically involved as other ethnic groups, the survey showed. Party identification is low: 32 percent identify with the Democratic Party, 14 percent with the Republican Party, 19 percent were independent and 35 percent described themselves as non-partisan.
Obama is doing well among most Asian ethnic groups. Japanese and Indian-Americans strongly favor Obama, and he has a lead among Chinese, Filipino and Korean voters.
But many Asians are still undecided, including 43 percent of Chinese- Americans.
Obama owes his support to several factors, researchers said: The economy is by far the dominant issue, which has helped Democrats; many Asian-Americans supported Bill Clinton; and most who backed Hillary
Clinton in the primaries have shifted to Obama.
“Many Asians started voting in the 1990s and tend to lean Democratic because of President Clinton,” said Janelle Wong of the University of Southern California.
Wong said the undecided number is high because many recent immigrants “are not experienced in the political system, and are just getting to know it.”
While Latinos can be reached in English and Spanish, Asian-Americans are a more diverse and multi-lingual group, and “they aren’t targeted as much as other voters,” said Taeku Lee of the University of California-
James Lai, a University of Santa Clara professor who studies demographics, said “neither party has done a particularly good job at outreach, and Asian-American groups feel kind of slighted.”
Four foundations and think tanks funded the survey, conducted by researchers for UC-Riverside, University of Southern California, UC-Berkeley and Rutgers in New Jersey.
A breakdown of data from the survey for several states including California will be released next week. According to a Field Poll last month, 45 percent of Asian-Americans in California backed Obama, 35 percent
supported McCain and 17 percent were undecided.
After Latinos, Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing group in the United States, constituting about 5 percent of the population. The researchers said Asian-Americans make up about 5 percent of the vote
in two battleground states, Virginia and Nevada.
7/11/08 ObamaElectionWatch: Don’t Neglect Asian-American Voters:  They Can Tip the Vote to Obama in Virginia
*OEW is an independent Web site, not affiliated with the Obama campaign or any other political organization
Asians make up 5 percent of the total American electorate. A 2004 survey by the Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund found that Asians are more likely – by a whopping 4 to 1 margin – to
identify with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party.
But Obama may have work to do to shore up his support among Asian-American voters. Exit polls in the California primary show that Clinton walloped Obama among Asian voters by a 3 to 1 margin.
As is well known, the Asian-American vote is heavily concentrated in the state of California . Although their vote is large – about 13 percent of all California voters � Asian-American voters there do not have the
numbers to change election results. Most political analysts believe that McCain’s money disadvantage will keep him from competing in California where the many large media markets make statewide
television advertising extremely costly.
But there are other states where the Asian vote could play a deciding role. Among the states where Asians make up at least 5 percent of the electorate are Virginia and Nevada , two states where polls now show
the Obama-McCain contest to be a dead heat.
There are more than 400,000 Asian Americans in Virginia . In the 2006 Senate election in Virginia , Democratic candidate James Webb pulled 76 percent of the Asian-American vote against incumbent GOP senator George Allen. If instead the two had split the Asian vote with each candidate receiving 50 percent, Allen would have been reelected to the Senate.
Virginia has been a red state favoring the GOP candidate in recent presidential elections. But some say that Virginia is now a blue-red or purple state. Therefore, the Obama campaign might consider an outreach
program for Asian Americans in Virginia to improve his chances to win the state’s 13 electoral votes.
Here are some possible tactics:
The Obama organization can place campaign materials at restaurants, stores, and businesses in communities with large concentrations of Asians.  Most of the Asian-American communities are in Fairfax County outside of
Washington , D.C. In fact there are four voting precincts in Fairfax County where Asians make up a majority of the electorate and a dozen more where Asians are at least 20 percent of the population. These clusters are
in Fairfax City , Merrifield, Falls Church , Reston, Tysons Corner, Annandale, and Oakton.
The Asian-American student organizations at the University of Richmond, the University of Virginia , and Virginia Tech could be a solid resource to supply volunteers for the Obama effort.
There is an Asian-American chamber of commerce in Virginia whose members might be persuaded to volunteer for the Obama campaign. The Asian-American community tends to be tightly knit and conservative. Yet, gaining the support of Asian American business leaders could provide a boost to Obama’s efforts to get out the Asian vote.
A nonpartisan voter registration drive could be launched through the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia, which is headquartered in the city of Reston .
Additional information could be placed on the Asian language pages at the Obama Web site. The Obama campaign could provide pertinent information on voter registration and polling places geared specifically
to aid Asian-American voters. Perhaps an Asian language e-mail form can be presented allowing Asian voters to ask questions or to sign up for assistance to get to the polls on Election Day.
The Obama mission is strong on issues important to Asian Americans.  These include immigration reform, support for small businesses, and education programs for students who use English as a second language.
Given proper attention Virginia’s 13 electoral votes could be won by Obama with Asian-American voters providing him with the margin of victory.
8/3/08 Huffington Post: “Largest Asian-American PAC Endorses Obama”
by Natasha Chen
On Saturday the largest Asian-American political action committee, the 80-20 Initiative, formally endorsed Sen. Obama for president. They decided on the endorsement after a day-long convention and discussion among 33 delegates of various ethnicities, ages and party affiliations. The delegates represent a national, nonpartisan organization of 700,000 supporters.
80-20’s press release did include a caveat at the very end, to say that if Sen. McCain chose Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana as his running mate, the organization would “view it very helpful in winning equal opportunity for Asian-Americans. In that event, this convention may reconvene” to reconsider its endorsement. But since vice presidential candidates are not yet known, and the 80-20 Initiative did not wish to speculate, leaders encouraged members to fully support Barack Obama, including financial donations to the campaign.
The PAC came to its decision after a three-hour discussion at the Crowne Plaza in Foster City , Calif. , on the San Francisco peninsula. The debates centered on how effectively Sens. Obama and McCain would address issues of the Pan-Asian American community. The group specifically focused on equal opportunity in the workplace through the enforcement of Executive Order 11246 of 1965, which outlined laws for equal employment opportunity.
80-20 had sent out questionnaires early in the primary season to all presidential candidates, asking for their written commitment to equal employment opportunities, and to give Asian-American legal professionals equal opportunities to be judges at all levels of the Federal Courts. All the Democratic candidates responded to the questionnaire, but McCain never did.
“I’m very disappointed that John McCain did not respond to our questionnaire,” said Victor Lee, a Republican delegate to the endorsement convention. “He didn’t say no, but he didn’t say anything.” Lee said that as a Republican, it was hard to argue for a McCain endorsement at the convention, when McCain simply ignored the group’s questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of six questions, and can be found here.
The 80-20 Initiative is a national, nonpartisan group dedicated to the issues of Asian Pacific Americans. Saturday’s convention followed group bylaws, under which one-third of the delegates must be Democrats, one-third Republicans and one-third Independents. According to the rules, the group may endorse one, both or none of the major party candidates for president.
The group formed six years ago with the intent of creating a swing voting bloc among Asian Americans. Putting aside political differences to look at this ethnic community’s interests as a whole, the goal was for 80 percent of the community to vote for the candidate that the organization would endorse.
On Super Tuesday, the Asian American vote produced a 71-to-25 percent victory for Hillary Clinton in California , where Asian Americans make up more than 12 percent of the population. The 80-20 Initiative had endorsed Clinton before the primary, purely due to the candidates’ timing. Clinton had responded to their questionnaire in December, while Obama did not respond until four days before Super Tuesday.
The Obama campaign sent surrogate Ted Lieu, a California assemblyman, to speak at the convention. The campaign also sent a video message from Obama’s sister, who is half-Asian. The McCain campaign sent no representative. At the end of the day, all the delegates unified in support, based on what they described as unequivocal commitment from the Obama campaign to better the rights of Asian Americans.
Victor Lee said he would tell Republican friends beyond the Asian community to vote for Obama, because he said he’d like to spread the word and get the candidate in office who can deliver on the promise of giving Asian Americans the opportunities they deserve.
Lee was not the only Republican delegate feeling disappointed in McCain. Charles Zhang, a Republican from Michigan , said of their endorsement, “I know we’ll probably pay more taxes. But the most important thing for Asian Americans is equal opportunity and justice…I hope during the next election, the Republican will do more for the Asian American community.”
The 80-20 Initiative had even lacked the necessary number of Republican delegates to their endorsement convention initially, filling the last four spots only a week before the event. While Republican delegates bemoaned their own party’s candidate, Democrats at the convention were expectedly upbeat. But a unified attitude of determination and full support for Obama eclipsed the usual party tensions .
“We have to separate the emotions from the ‘brain’ side of it,” said Arthur Cheung, an Independent from Mountain View, Calif. Cheung, among the younger delegates present, had stood up in the rounds of introductions earlier and said, “My name is Arthur Cheung. I don’t have kids and I’m not married. But I think the work we did here today will affect the future — for my kids that I will have.”
When asked whether issues of the pan-Asian community would trump matters of national security, economy or environment, Cheung let his actions speak for themselves. In 2004, when 80-20 withdrew their initial endorsement of John Kerry, in effect making no endorsement at all, Cheung did not vote in that general election. “Sometimes it’s what you identify with. Some people identify with age, some identify with gender — high on my list is ethnicity.”
If these delegates and the other 700,000 members of the 80-20 Initiative follow through in such a fashion, Obama could very well have gained a large percentage of Asian American Republicans in just one day.
7/31/08 San Francisco Chronicle: “Could Obama be first Asian American president?”
by Jeff Yang (a condensed version of his Asian Pop column on SFGate.com)
“White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime. After all, (he) displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”
With these words in the New Yorker in 1998, Toni Morrison granted our 42nd president, William Jefferson Clinton, a kind of cadet membership in the grand cultural narrative of black America . While her intent was never to make him out as a role model, her essay nevertheless reflected how implausible, how impossibly distant the idea of an African American occupant in the Oval Office seemed at the time.
Morrison couldn’t have known that, exactly a decade later, her assertion would be called into question: In Barack Obama, we now face the very real prospect of an “actual black person” being elected president – though his cultural narrative is so unique and complicated that some would argue it has as many contrasts as commonalities with that of the average black American.
In fact, reading Obama’s absorbing 1995 memoir “Dreams From My Father,” it strikes me that the circumstances that surround and define Obama can just as easily be read as those of another community entirely. Which raises the question: Could it be that our true first black president might also be our “first Asian American president”?
He was born and raised in Hawaii , the only state in the union with an Asian majority; he spent four formative years in Jakarta , Indonesia , the home of his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro, where he attended local schools and learned passable Bahasa Indonesia. The family with whom he’s closest – half sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and her Chinese Canadian husband, Konrad Ng – and many of his friends and social circle are Asian American. So, too, are some of the most senior members of his congressional team – his Senate chief of staff, Pete Rouse, whose mother is Japanese American, and his legislative director, Chris Lu, whose parents hail from China .
Evidence for Obama’s affinity with the Asian American experience runs even deeper as one delves into his memoirs. “A lot of aspects of the senator’s story will be recognizable to many Asian Americans,” says Lu, a Harvard Law School classmate of the senator’s who joined his team in 2005. “He talks about feeling like somewhat of an outsider, about coming to terms with his self-identity, about figuring out how to reconcile the values from his unique heritage with those of larger U.S. society. These are tensions and conflicts that play out in the lives of all children of immigrants.”
Understanding this dimension of his makeup offers critical insights to how his outlook and political sensibilities were forged, even providing explanation for some of his more controversial positions, such as his charge to black parents for personal responsibility.
Some African American leaders, notably the Rev. Jesse Jackson, have suggested that Obama’s continued reminders of the obligations of parents to their children, of citizens to their society, are elitist and patronizing. To Asian Americans, they simply sound … familiar. They’re part of the ethical foundation many of us have heard so often in our parents’ voices: aspiration tempered with pragmatism. Strenuous effort and rigorous accountability as the bedrock of success. Moderation in all things, humility in times of triumph, patience in periods of tribulation.
This is a point often missed by those who have assessed Obama at face value, seeing in him a fiery street preacher or a bright-eyed idealist, an iconoclast or an ideologue, and expressed disillusionment with what they see as “triangulation” or “pandering” in some of his recent positions. The people who know him best say that the senator is nothing if not consistent – that throughout his career and campaign he has stayed true, if you will, to his Asian American roots.
Calling Obama the first Asian American president doesn’t obscure or invalidate his other identities – black, white, multiracial, transnational, pancultural; if anything, it simply highlights the fact that his diverse heritage uniquely invites those around him to project on him a full spectrum of hopes and dreams.
“He’s basically a human Rorschach test,” says Lu. “African Americans think, and rightfully so, that this is a guy who understands their experience. But it’s similar if you talk to Latinos and Asian Americans, or to our 22-year-old field organizers. People see in him the qualities they want to see.”
The important thing to note is that this isn’t a case of “either/or” but “and.” Perhaps the way to read Obama was best pointed out by another black man of mixed heritage, another pioneer whose arrival on a heretofore lily-white landscape shook the firmament. If we are all Tiger Woods, there’s no reason we can’t all be Barack Obama. In an increasingly flat and unbounded global landscape, this is not a weakness, but our greatest competitive strength.
“It’s amusing watching people come up with these caricatures suggesting he’s not American,” notes Lu. “His story is the quintessential American story. It’s the story that our nation is all about.”

7/29/08 Washington Post: “Obama, at Fundraiser, Pronounces Himself an ‘Honorary AAPI'”
By Jonathan Weisman
At a fundraiser sponsored by a coalition of Asian American political groups, Sen. Barack Obama today pronounced himself an “honorary AAPI,” or Asian American and Pacific Islander.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) introduced Obama at the fundraiser, held in a ballroom of Washington’s posh Mayflower Hotel, noting that Obama’s family includes Asian Americans and that he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.
“The son of an immigrant, raised among AAPI’s in Hawaii , Barack Obama understands the struggles of immigrants searching for an identity in America ,” he said.
The candidate’s entrance was greeted by an extended ovation. His 20-minute speech dwelled heavily on immigration and Asian-American issues, as well as his own background. Born in Hawaii , raised for a time in Indonesia , Obama said his first college roommates were Pakistani and Indian. “Most importantly,” he said, “I have a sister who is half Indonesian, who is married to a Chinese Canadian. I don’t know what that makes my niece.”
“Being here is especially meaningful to me because I consider myself to be an honorary AAPI member, and I think I’ve got some pretty good credentials,” he said.
The event was jointly sponsored by the Asian American Finance Committee and the Democratic National Committee’s AAPI Leadership Council, South Asian American Leadership Council and Indo-American Leadership Council. Event chairmen contributed or raised $33,100.
Obama ditched his usual stump speech for a more focused talk on issues of interest to the audience. He promised health care initiatives geared toward Asian American problems, gave a full-throated endorsement of federal support for minority-owned businesses (just days after McCain backed state initiatives banning affirmative action), and promised to restore the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“We are a nation of laws, and if people are breaking our immigration laws, there should be consequences,” he said. “But I also believe that one of the things that sets this country apart is that there is no one who looks like a typical American…. You can have a Honda who is a congressman. You can have an Obama who is a presidential candidate.”
The audience was heavy with South Asian, Southeast Asian and East Asian Americans, but there were plenty of attendees from other ethnic backgrounds, as well. Among those gathered were Reps. Bobby Scott of Virginia, Joe Baca of Calif., the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, delegate from American Samoa , David Wu of Oregon and Xavier Bacerra of California .

7/16/08 Asian Americans for Obama: “Field Poll: Asian American Californians for Obama 59%-23% Over McCain,”
The latest Field Poll of Californians likely to vote in the upcoming November presidential election was released today showing that Barack Obama enjoys a large preference advantage over McCain among Asians (59% to 23%), Latinos (64% to 21%) and overwhelmingly among African-Americans (89% to 5%).
Overall, Obama now leads McCain by twenty-four points (54% to 30%) in California .
Obama has consolidated the support of California Democrats and non-partisans who voted for Clinton in California ‘s February 5th primary election. The poll shows Obama preferred over McCain by 80% to 8% among these voters.
Three times as many Obama voters (51%) as McCain voters (17%) say they are “very enthusiastic” about supporting their candidate for president in November.
Obama’s image rating among the overall California electorate (63% favorable vs. 26% unfavorable) is more positive than McCain’s (48% to 38%).
These are the main findings from the survey conducted July 8�14 in English and Spanish among a random sample of 672 likely voters statewide.

7/13/08 India Post News Service: “Indo American Clinton supporters merge loyalties with Obama Sunday,”
by Srirekha N. Chakravarty
NEW YORK: For the scores of Democrats among the South Asian community, the recent move of former Clinton campaign advisor Neera Tanden to the Obama campaign has sealed beyond doubt, the merger of loyalties to get a Democratic President elected this November. Indian American Neera Tanden, a longtime policy aide for Sen. Hillary Clinton, and her campaign’s policy director, has moved to the Obama campaign as his domestic policy director. Significantly, the senior most Clinton loyalist’s move was a strategic and deliberate one that was capped with Clinton’s blessings. Prominent South Asian fundraisers in the Clinton campaign, notably New York hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, have also reportedly been asked by Sen. Clinton to lend their fundraising capabilities to the Obama campaign.
Hardcore supporters of both Senators Clinton and Obama among South Asian Democrats and active campaigners, have welcomed the mergers not only in the larger interest of the Democratic Party but also see the moves as a combining of forces to defeat Republican attempts at regaining the White House. “We are willingly working for the Obama campaign now,” said New Jersey-based businessman, Prakash Shah, who is a longtime Democrat and a diehard Clinton supporter.
“A lot of us seniors have been specifically requested by Sen. Clinton at various meetings in different cities, to support Sen. Obama.” Although Shah wholeheartedly agrees that Sen. Obama is a far better candidate for President than presumptive Republican candidate John McCain, he admits that the shifting of loyalties does not come easy.
“When you work feverishly for one campaign, which does not make it, there is bound to be disappointment and the usual moaning and groaning. But you move on,” he says. Move on they did, because, as Shah says, “we definitely don’t want another Republican in the White House.” Shah also concedes that he does not think Sen. Obama the perfect candidate for President, owing to his lack of experience. “Sen. Clinton would definitely have made a better President of course,” he says unflinchingly, while rationalizing that a lot of Americans feel experience is not important. “So, we got what we got,” he adds smilingly. Active political workers apart, such merging of loyalties is not likely to confuse the South Asian voters who may have been supporters of one or the other Democratic candidate, according to Hrishi Karthikeyan, co-founder of South Asians for Obama (SAFO). SAFO is a national grassroots effort to mobilize the South Asian American community behind Senator Obama’s candidacy.
“Such moves (such as Neera Tanden’s) are typical of the party consolidation that occurs after the primary race has concluded and the party unites in preparation for the general election contest ahead,” explains Karthikeyan. “Tanden is one of the brightest, most thoughtful minds within the Democratic Party today, and I think her strong support of Senator Obama speaks volumes to his strength as a candidate.” Further elaborating the point, he says, “I don’t believe the community is “confused” by these moves.
Although Senators Obama and Clinton were both competing for their party’s presidential nomination, as fellow Democrats they share the same values and outlook for our country. At the end of the day, I think members of our community realize these shared values, and supporters of Senator Clinton know what an ally they have in Senator Obama. In fact, any minor policy differences between Senators Clinton and Obama pale in comparison to the gulf of difference between either of them, and Senator McCain. In Obama’s favor, Shah says Black Americans, young Americans and other minorities are all very excited about him; and among the Whites, there are those who would never vote for a woman, those who would never vote for a Black and those who would never vote for a Democrat, but that has not stopped Black and other minority candidates from winning electoral offices in predominantly White constituencies. “We do sometimes overrate prejudices,” Shah observes.
For South Asian Democrats it is perhaps good enough that both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama favor universal health care, a responsible end to the war in Iraq, a rollback of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a restoration of the basic rule of law in both domestic and international affairs, a comprehensive foreign policy that makes full use of our diplomatic as well as military resources, and an energy policy that focuses on innovation and conservation rather than a further erosion of the planet and resources. “I would note that our community is diverse in its backgrounds and viewpoints, and I would never suggest that we are monolithic or that we proceed in lockstep,” says Karthikeyan.
“That said, however, I do believe that our community will overwhelmingly support Senator Obama in the fall as a result of his positive message and agenda for our future. He represents the same values (hard work, education, responsibility, humility, fairness, equality, opportunity and hope) that brought our families to this country in the first place. I believe that our community, like the country at large, is fundamentally unsatisfied with the results of 8 years of failed policies from the current president. They understand that Senator McCain simply offers a continuation of those failed policies, try as he may to convince us otherwise.
For that reason, I am confident that the South Asian American community will be solidly behind Senator Obama in November.” Shah, who was one of the highest fundraisers for the Clinton campaign – he raised over half-a-million dollars — is now organizing a fundraiser of Indian Americans for Sen. Obama on July 23rd at the Royal Albert’s Palace in New Jersey, which will be attended by Hollywood filmmaker Manoj Night Shyamalan, and several Clinton supporters.
On the larger point of how South Asian supporters of Sen. Clinton will contribute to Senator Obama when they only recently contributed to the Clinton campaign, Karthikeyan says, “I think the rationale for doing so remains the same as supporting Sen. Obama for sharing the same Democratic values as Sen. Clinton, which stand in stark contrast to the Republican nominee Senator McCain.”
7/8/08 press release: “Obama Campaign Announces Asian-American Finance Committee,’
CHICAGO, IL – The Obama campaign announced today the launch of the Asian-American Finance Committee. The committee is comprised of diverse American communities of supporters, including those from Asian American, South Asian American, and Pacific Islander background, who will raise funds to elect Senator Barack Obama as President and to strengthen and expand the Democratic Party.
“We look forward to doing everything we can to elect Senator Obama in November,” National Co-Chair Vinod Khosla said. “From ending the war in Iraq and restoring America’s standing abroad, to promoting innovation and working toward a comprehensive energy independence plan, from restoring the balance between civil liberties and national security, to ensuring all Americans have access to high quality, affordable healthcare, Senator Obama has consistently shown that he is the right choice not just for Asian-Americans, but for all Americans.”
The leadership of the Asian-American Finance Committee includes:
National Co-Chairs
* Sohaib Abbasi (Silicon Valley, CA)
* Nasser Ahmad & Romita Shetty (New York, NY)
* Cyrus Amir-Mokri (New York, NY)
* Swadesh Chatterjee (Cary, NC)
* Vinod Khosla (Silicon Valley, CA)
* Bel Leong-Hong (Gaithersburg, MD)
* Scott Oki (Seattle, WA)
* Mahinder Tak (Bethesda, MD)
* Stan Toy (Los Angeles, CA)
Grassroots Co-Chairs
* Curtis Chin (Los Angeles, CA)
* Hrishi Karthikeyan (New York, NY)
* Dave Kumar (Washington, DC)
* Reshma Saujani (New York, NY)
National Co-Chair & Senior Policy Advisor
* Preeta Bansal (New York, NY)
Contact: Obama Press Office, (312) 819-2423

7/2/08 Chicago Sun Times: “Meet Maya, the Asian side of Barack Obama’s family: Half-sister helps Obama go after 15 million Asian-American voters,”
by Juliana Barbassa
San Francisco —- The throng of Asian-American donors drew closer, drinks in hand, to hear Barack Obama’s sister describe the wide arc of his life: beyond politics and Chicago , into his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii .
To many in this crowd Obama’s Asian-American half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, represents yet another aspect of Obama’s identity that makes him unique as a presidential candidate, although it has been underplayed amid the excitement surrounding his shot at becoming the first black president.
”It would be the first time that the first family is comprised in part of Asian-Americans — as well as African-Americans, of course,” said Keith Kamisugi, a coordinator with Asian-Americans for Obama. In early June he organized a fundraiser along with two other Obama events focusing on Asian-American voters in San Francisco .
Discussion of those ties has taken a back seat to the Obama campaign’s efforts to win the Hispanic vote and his ability to rouse young and black voters. In spite of the drawn-out primary season, many voters have heard little about Obama’s years in Jakarta — he lived there between 1967 and 1971, while his mother was married to Soetoro-Ng’s father, an Indonesian businessman — or about his years in Hawaii , where Asian-Americans are a majority.
Soetoro-Ng and Obama have different fathers and the same mother. Her father is Indonesian, his is Kenyan. Her husband is Chinese-Canadian.
Initially, as the campaign focused on fighting out the primaries, state by state, ”the idea was to downplay to some degree race and ethnicity,” said Soetoro-Ng in an interview with The Associated Press. ”A lot of the emphasis had been on reaching out, making connections, closing the gaps.”
That theme resonated among Obama supporters of all backgrounds, said Soetoro-Ng, who is nine years younger than Obama and considers him ”the strong male force” in her life after her parents’ divorce.
It was with Obama she attended her first blues concert and her first voter registration drive, she said. The two remain close: She was there when Obama’s oldest daughter, Malia, 9, was born, and plans to help celebrate her 10th birthday on the 4th of July, on the campaign trail.
Soetoro-Ng’s appearances give voters a chance to get to know Obama as a person, not just an elected official. Her stories illustrate the development of his character, from his days as a teenager who loved basketball and bodysurfing and didn’t always get the strongest grades, to his growing sense of civic duty in the summers she spent with him in Chicago .
But she also has a political role to play. She plans to spend her summer vacation — she is a teacher at an all-girls’ school in Hawaii — introducing her brother to crowds such as this one.
”We are ready for a more complex construction of identity as a country,” she said, dismissing the possibility some voters might find it hard to relate to Obama’s multiethnic background and foreign experience.
”Maybe not everybody is as mixed or as hybrid as he is. But he gets Kansas , because we have Kansas ,” she said, referring to their mother’s background. ”He gets the Midwest . He gets the south side of Chicago .”
And he ”has a lot of affection for Asian cultures, in all of their various forms,” she said.
That cultural variety is among the reasons Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters have gotten less attention than other ethnic groups from the media — or even from the Obama campaign — during the primary season.
Asian-American voters represent about 5 percent of the population, or about 15.4 million people, but their communities are scattered around the country and harbor deep cultural and geopolitical differences that bleed into their voting behavior and ensure that many remain independent, harder to court.
”I’m not surprised we haven’t had as much attention as Latinos and African-Americans,” said Kamisugi. ”We’re underdeveloped and under-recognized” as voters.
In 2004, 56 percent of Asian-Americans voted for Democrat John Kerry and 44 percent for President Bush, according to exit poll data.
”It’s not an easily definable vote,” said Tony Quinn, a California political analyst. ”You can’t talk about it as a voting bloc — it’s not.”
Asians make up one-fourth of the foreign-born population in the United States ; many are first-generation immigrants. That presents a challenge to politicians, said Gautam Dutta, executive director of the Asian American Action Fund,a political action committee whose goal is to increase Asian-American political participation.
”You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach,” Dutta said.
This may explain why an event billed as the community’s first National Presidential Town Hall, which drew about 2,000 Asian-American and Pacific Islander leaders, elected officials and voters in May got less attention from candidates who appeared and spoke before Hispanic and black civic organizations.
Hillary Rodham Clinton made a video appearance, Obama took questions over the phone. There was no response from Republican John McCain’s campaign.
But some analysts argue that because Asian-Americans are just emerging as a political community engaging them now will pay off.
Census numbers show their growing importance. The Asian-American population grew 3 percent between 2004 and 2005 — more than another other group. And the Census projects the population will grow 213 percent by 2050, to 33.4 million.
In some key states, their weight is already considerable. Besides Hawaii , where Asian-Americans are 57.5 percent of the population, and California , where they’re 13.5 percent, Asians are 7.7 percent of New Jersey and Washington , and 7.2 percent of New York .
In some races, even a comparatively small group can cast the key votes. In Virginia ‘s 2006 Senate contest, Republican George Allen referred to an Indian-American as a ”macaca” and the resulting outrage among Asians helped propel Democrat Jim Webb’s come-from-behind victory. Webb won by 7,231 votes.
”Parties are hesitant to invest in communities where party loyalty is not fixed,” said David Lee, who teaches political science at San Francisco State University , and heads the Chinese-American Voters Education Committee. ”But if you don’t spend the money, if you don’t invest in Asian voters, why should they be loyal?”
Soetoro-Ng, and her husband, Konrad Ng, a professor at the University of Hawaii , are already doing some of that work.
Ng blogs on the Obama campaign’s Web site, and Soetoro-Ng plans to continue to take time from her teaching throughout the fall to make phone calls to house parties, appear on radio broadcasts and perform other outreach for her brother.
”My brother is very interested in reaching out to communities,” including Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, she said. ”You’re going to see a lot of new reaching out. It will be more deliberate.”


5/10/08: The Maui News: “Superdelegate Hirono endorses Obama,”
Honolulu: Saying the Democratic Party needs to be united, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono said Friday she is endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination over Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Hirono, one of Hawaii’s nine superdelegates, said although she has “deep respect and admiration for Senator Clinton . . . at this point, I think it is important for the party to unite behind the front-runner.”
Both the Hawaii-born Obama and Clinton are “extraordinary candidates and both represent the kind of changes that America wants,” Hirono said. She also said she is not saying Obama would be a better president than Clinton , but the focus of the party should be on defeating the presumptive Republican candidate, Arizona Sen. John McCain
“We need to have a Democrat who will change the priorities from the Bush priorities. John McCain is not a change, but a continuation of the Bush agenda, so we have to make sure that we have someone who will lead a change,” Hirono said. “The Bush priorities are disastrous for our country.”
Hirono represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Maui County , the other Neighbor Island counties and rural Oahu . She spoke to The Maui News in a telephone interview from Washington on Friday after releasing a statement on her support for Obama.
On her last visit to the district two weeks ago, she said, people told her they are ready to move beyond the primary feuding and focus on the GOP challenge.
She said her choice for Obama is not just because he grew up in Hawaii , “although it’s great that Barack has a background of being from Hawaii ; as president he can appreciate the importance and challenges of diversity in our country.
“Barack Obama is someone who can bring about the positive changes Americans want,” she said.
She noted that Hawaii residents overwhelmingly supported Obama in the February Hawaii caucus and are proud of his deep roots in the state.
The islands other Democratic congressman, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, was an early Obama supporter as a superdelegate and has called on the state’s undecided superdelegates to endorse a candidate as soon as possible so the party can focus on the general election.
“We don’t want to be concentrating our efforts and our energies on this end any longer than we have to,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.
The undecided superdelegates are Sen. Daniel Akaka and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Dolly Strazar.
Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Akaka, said there was no change in his position. There has been no announcement from Strazar and calls seeking her position were not returned.
The state’s superdelegates also include Sen. Daniel Inouye and Democratic National Committee member Richard Port , who are supporting Clinton .
The three remaining superdelegates, including the state party chair, will be chosen later this month when the local Democratic party gathers for its state convention.
Brian Schatz, a candidate for state party chair, supports Obama. His rival, Annelle Amaral, said although she supports Clinton , she will uphold the will of Hawaii’s Democratic caucus voters, who overwhelmingly supported Obama.
Overall, the national convention will have about 800 superdelegates, who are free to choose their candidates and are not bound by state primary or caucus results.
Despite signs that Obama may have the nomination locked, a spokesman for Inouye said the senator remains supportive of Clinton .
“Senator Inouye will not join the chorus urging her to leave the race,” said Mike Yuen. “He is confident she will make the right decision for both the Democratic Party and our nation.
Inouye told the Honolulu Star Bulletin there are still ways for Clinton to win.  He said 15- or 20-point Clinton victories in the next contests would give people something to think about and noted that former President Bill Clinton was running third among Democrats for the party�s nomination at this time in 1992.
Still, Inouye agreed that Clinton �s performance in the recent North Carolina and Indiana primaries did not help. He expects her to make a decision about her campaign after primaries May 13 in West Virginia and May 20 in Kentucky and Oregon .
“I would think that you will go through the next round, and then soon after a decision will be made,” he told the newspaper.
Port said Thursday he is still concerned about what he sees as Obama’s inexperience and lack of support among white working-class voters and women.  Port said he will likely go to the convention as a Clinton supporter, although if Obama wins in West Virginia and Kentucky – states with large blue-collar populations – that would affect his decision.
The presidential candidate for the party will need 2,025 of 4,049 delegates. As of Friday, Obama had 1,840, Clinton had 1,684 and John Edwards had 18. The Democratic Party 2008 convention will be held Aug. 25-28 in Denver .
“My hope and expectation is that the Bush policies are so obviously bad for the country that we will all recognize the need to have a president who will change the direction,” Hirono said. “At the same time, we have to be sure when we come out of our convention we are going to be united as a party.”
4/16/08 Pennsylvania debate. Transcript from The Morning Call. http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-debate-transcript-041708,0,2860758.story?page=20
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama, last May we talked about affirmative action, and you said at the time that affluent African- Americans, like your daughters, should probably be treated as pretty advantaged when they apply to college and that poor, white children, kids, should get special consideration, affirmative action.
So as president, how specifically would you recommend changing affirmative action policies so that affluent African-Americans are not given advantages and poor, less affluent whites are?
OBAMA: Well, I think that the basic principle that should guide discussions not just of affirmative action, but how we are admitting young people to college generally, is how do we make sure that we’re providing ladders of opportunity for people? How do we make sure that every child in America has a decent shot in pursuing their dreams?
And race is still a factor in our society. And I think that for universities and other institutions to say, “You know, we’re going to take into account the hardships that somebody has experienced because they’re black or Latino or because they’re a woman”…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if they’re wealthy?
OBAMA: … I think that’s something that they can take into account, but it can only be in the context of looking at the whole situation of the young person.
So if they look at my child, and they say, “You know, Malia and Sasha, they’ve had a pretty good deal,” then that shouldn’t be factored in.
On the other hand, if there’s a young white person, who has been working hard, struggling, and has overcome great odds, that’s something that should be taken into account.
So I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can’t be a quota system and it can’t be something that is simply applied without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black, or white, or Hispanic, male or female.
What we want to do is make sure that people who’ve been locked out of opportunity are going to be able to walk through those doors of opportunity in the future.

2/18/08 Time: “Does Obama Have an Asian Problem?”
By Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
As Hawaii’s primary takes place on Tuesday, Barack Obama ought to be sitting back with an umbrella cocktail. After all, it’s the state where he spent many of his childhood years. He graduated from the prestigious Punahou School in Honolulu , and his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, still lives and works there. Along with his wife and daughters, the Illinois Senator returns occasionally for family reunions.
But while there’s a good chance much of Hawaii ‘s nearly 60% Asian-American population will be squarely behind Obama, the same can’t be said for Asian-Americans in the rest of the country. So far this campaign, that is the one ethnic group that has voted most consistently and overwhelmingly for his rival, Hillary Clinton, generating a debate that has raised a very sensitive, ugly question: could some Asian-Americans not be voting for Obama simply because he’s black?
In California , where Asian-Americans make up 8% of the electorate, a CNN exit poll found they voted three to one in her favor. In New York , the Asian American Legal Defense Fund’s exit poll concluded that 87% of Asian-American Democrats backed their state’s Senator. In New Jersey , it was 73%. From no other group did Clinton command that kind of loyalty; she won 69% of Latino voters in California , for example, compared to 75% of Asians. Publications including some local editions of ethnic newspapers like Sing Tao have endorsed her, as have prominent politicians including former Gov. Gary Locke of Washington and Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii .
And while Asian Americans, accounting for just 5% of the population, may not have the numbers to sway the nomination one way or another, their overwhelming support of Clinton has led to a serious debate about what might lie behind it. Experts have speculated about a variety of possible reasons having little to do with race: Like other new immigrants, Asian Americans are more conservative in their choices for leaders, and therefore likely to go with the known entity, which in this race, thanks to her husband and her time in the White House, is Clinton . Many Asians are business owners who prospered under Bill Clinton. Just 34% of Asian Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 vote, according to a slick commercial by MTV’s Choose of Lose Campaign, which may eat into Obama’s poll numbers. Perhaps most significantly, the Clinton campaign had long ago locked up support from local politicians, who hold unusual sway over their ethnic communities.
But the touchy question about race is the one getting the most attention. When CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 ran a piece by Gary Tuchman earlier this month implying that racism may play a role in Asians’ voting choice, the outcry was instantaneous.
The 80-20 Initiative, a political action committee seeking to solidify 80% of Asians in one voting bloc and backing Clinton , organized a petition demanding that CNN run a corrected segment. Asian bloggers, who skew disproportionately toward Obama, shot off paeans of support disputing CNN’s theory. They pointed to prominent Asian-Americans like Norm Mineta, the former Commerce Secretary under Bill Clinton and Transportation Secretary for George W. Bush, who have recently pledged allegiance to the Obama camp.
Still, the fracas has stirred some quiet debate in the community.
“Maybe it’s just my cynicism speaking, but you look at those numbers and on some level there has to be some element of race,” says Oliver Wang, a sociology professor at California State University at Long Beach . While not discounting the myriad cultural reasons that could explain the support for Clinton , “on a gut level my reaction is that at least some Asian Americans are uncomfortable voting for a black candidate.”
Wang, 35, who grew up in the U.S. , voted for Obama in the California primary. He is a child of Taiwanese immigrants, and believes that foreign-born Asian voters in this election may be leading the Hillary Clinton support. In his view, those voters tend to hold more conservative views; Obama’s mantra of change and bold rhetoric could remind some of the unstable governments they fled; and they may cling to warm perceptions of Bill Clinton shared in their home countries.
But Wang also suspects that race lurks among the possible reasons behind Asian immigrants’ reticence to back Obama. “The images of African Americans that get exported to other cultures is not often positive,” says Wang, who teaches about pop culture and race. “It’s not unusual to find new immigrants who have never had a meaningful, personal encounter with an African American. So there’s a very uninformed bias,” says Wang.
“Obama is a different kind of African American,” he adds. “His background doesn’t date back to slavery; he’s half-black, half-white; he grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii . In other words, he’s not Al Sharpton. But those nuances get lost when someone comes from a foreign country. To them, it doesn’t translate.”
Some observers think that Obama simply hasn’t made enough of an effort until recently to go after the Asian-American vote. For instance, some Asians were sensitive to being left out of Obama’s rousing stump speeches on racial unity, speeches that mentioned only black and white, according to Don Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California Los Angeles . But following his clean sweep of the Potomac primaries on February 12, Obama pointedly thanked a rainbow of ethnic groups, including Asian Americans. “He can turn it around,” says Nakanishi. “He has a story to tell, one that we would get.”
The tide may already be turning. Since Mineta’s surprising endorsement in February, the former cabinet member has joined the campaign as a surrogate to encourage the support of Asian-Americans. Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s sister, has campaigned actively in Hawaii , conducting interviews and appearing at phone banks and picnics; she is often joined by her husband, Konrad Ng, who is of Chinese descent. The campaign is also running ads on Japanese-language TV networks in Hawaii . Five members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus support Obama. Asianweek endorsed Obama on its cover.
“Asian-American voters are no different,” says Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the Obama campaign. “Once they get to know him and know his ideas, we have their support.”
Alan Shum, 24, an analyst for an investment fund in New York City , cast his vote for Obama. But he also thinks his elders might have a problem doing the same. “Voting for a black candidate is just not something that would jump out at them,” he says. “Chinese people are really racist at times.” He points to the colloquial Chinese for “white” and “black,” which append both words with “devil.” “The vernacular tells you a little about something,” he says. “Chinese people can be very, very insular as a culture, very superior. We look down upon any race that isn’t Chinese.”
But assuming that’s true, then what makes Asian Americans more comfortable with a white candidate than a black one? Clinton might have been slurred last June by the Obama campaign as the “Senator from Punjab ” for what it said were her pro-outsourcing stands (the Obama camp later apologized). But Asian she’s not. And her campaign has made its own stumbles, as happened a year ago when a campaign staffer told a local reporter from a San Francisco-based Chinese-language daily newspaper that an event wasn’t open to “foreign press.” ( Clinton apparently learned from that mistake, holding a special media event for the Asian-American papers in San Francisco and hiring an Asian-American man, Jin Chon, as a press secretary for specialty media.)
What’s more, there’s the gender factor. Many Asian cultures are patriarchal, and Clinton is the only female candidate in the field.
But despite their cultures, many immigrants from those countries may in fact be more familiar than Americans with a female leader: Indira Gandhi in India , Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Philippines , Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan . And many of those leaders, like Clinton , were married to or descended from former leaders.
For Lien Murakami, a systems programmer in Oakland , Calif. , however, her choice came down to something far more specific: Clinton ‘s proposals on aid for Iraqi refugees. A Vietnamese refugee herself, Murakami, 30, looked closely at the two candidates’ stands on that topic among others and found Clinton ‘s uniformly more detailed and realistic.
The racism charge, she says, is offensive to voters like her and her Japanese-American husband, who conducted extensive research before casting their votes. “It’s generalizing to say that if you support Hillary, you’re not thinking about the candidates but going with what your community leader is telling you, and that you’re racist to boot,” she says.
All this leaves his state very much in the air, says Ira Rohter, a political scientist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Race will most certainly play a role, he says “but perhaps not in the way mainlanders might think. For one thing, since Asians are a majority there, voters tend not to think of themselves as one minority voting bloc struggling to make an impact, but rather as sub-groups of specific ethnicities. For another, Obama, being of mixed race, is a familiar entity: two-thirds of babies born in Hawaii are so-called hapas, says Rohter.
“Of course,” says Rohter, “he’s half black, which is different.” Blacks make up a barely visible minority in Hawaii . But historically, many have been members of the military, which retains a presence there and there is a long history of a “certain tension” between servicemembers and native Hawaiians, who once saw them as an occupational force.
Nevertheless, Don Nakanishi of UCLA expects Obama to “do well” in Hawaii . There are signs the voting bloc long ruled by the Democratic machine there is breaking up, as young and independent voters register for its closed caucuses in unprecedented droves. Nationwide, as Obama’s campaign catches a glimpse of the finish line, it will likely pour more effort into winning over previously written-off groups like Asians. They’ve already won over Nakanishi – he voted for Obama earlier this month.
The original version of this article stated that AsianWeek has endorsed Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. In fact the publication has endorsed Barack Obama

2/14/08 Associated Press: “Sister: Obama’s success rooted in Hawaii,”
by Sudhin Thanawala
Millions of voters look at Barack Obama and see a future president. Maya Soetoro-Ng looks at her big brother and sees a father figure.
Soetoro-Ng, who is nine years younger than Obama, said her mother divorced her father when she was 9, making Obama, her half brother, the father figure in her life. He toured colleges with her, showed her New York and Chicago and gave her her first novels.
“He let me know the world was large, and that I should get to know as much of it as possible,” said Soetoro-Ng, who has been campaigning for her brother in advance of Tuesday’s Democratic caucuses in Hawaii .
Obama’s parents: Barack Obama Sr., a black man from a poor village in Kenya , and Ann Dunham, a white woman whose parents grew up in Kansas,  met at the University of Hawaii and married in Honolulu .
After the marriage failed, a 6-year-old Obama left Hawaii to spend four years in Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetoro. In 1971, when he was 10, Obama’s mother sent him back to Honolulu to stay with his maternal grandparents.
Soetoro-Ng, who teaches history at the private LaPietra Hawaii School for Girls and night classes at the University of Hawaii , said her brother is a private man who deals with questions about his identity and other struggles in “a very personal way.”
“He’s good though about grappling with them and moving on,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Today he is a man very comfortable with himself and peaceful with his sense of self.”
Obama honed his ability to appeal to a diverse group of people in the Hawaiian islands , a crossroad of cultures from throughout the Pacific, said Soetoro-Ng.
” Hawaii is the place that gave him the ability to … understand people from a wide array of backgrounds,” she said. “People see themselves in him … because he himself contains multitudes.”
His family’s own diversity played no small part in developing that skill, she said.
Obama still returns almost every Christmas to visit family, indulge in local sushi, body surf at a beach on the southeastern coast of Oahu and look for sea turtles, Soetoro-Ng said. His parents and grandfather have died, and his grandmother is in poor health but has been following the presidential race closely on television, she said.
” Hawaii really is a sanctuary for him – a safe place where he can just relax, where things are in many respects unchanged,” Soetoro-Ng said.
In his 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” Obama wrote about growing up with the island’s unique food and culture: poi and roast pig, choice cuts of aku for sashimi and spearfishing off Kailua Bay . Living in his grandparents’ downtown apartment, he attended the prestigious Punahou School and drove to parties at Army bases.
Classmates at Punahou describe Obama – known as Barry to them – as an upbeat, social person who played basketball and occasionally wore an African-style shirt.
But in his memoirs, Obama described feeling like a misfit in his Indonesian sandals and old-fashioned clothes when he started at the school. As one of the few black students at Punahou – and among a small group of blacks on the island – he remembered someone wanting to touch his hair and being asked whether his father ate people.
He struggled with his racial identity and turned to marijuana to block the questions out, he wrote.
Former classmate Kelli Furushima, who remembered Obama playfully grabbing a pencil from her ear while passing in the hallway, said she never knew about the turmoil Obama was experiencing. But Furushima said she wasn’t surprised.
“You don’t let the world know how you feel when you’re a teenager,” she said. “You might be really insecure inside, but when you’re walking down the halls, you’re laughing.”
2/8/08 Sunfire News Wire: Statement by Hon. Norman Y. Mineta and Hon. Don Edwards:
Each of us, not quite a half century ago, chose to enter the political arena and the world of public service in San Jose , California . We were prompted to do that in no small measure by a President who challenged us to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” We were inspired by John F. Kennedy’s eloquence, but we were motivated by his example, as well—-his youth, his vibrancy, his determination, his optimism, and his commitment to the principle that we all have a responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Once again we can sense the promise and the power of possibility—the very qualities that typify Silicon Valley and its residents—that have been generated by another visionary, courageous, and dynamic leader, a person who we believe will be, and most certainly should be, the next President of the United States of America, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois .
Barack Obama is a remarkable person with a remarkable life’s story. The son of a student from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas, a man whose youth was spent living and learning in the rich culture of Indonesia and the magnificent diversity of Hawaii , who then studied and excelled as an undergraduate at Columbia University and at Harvard Law School , a man who, rather than accepting a lucrative position in some high powered and privileged corporate law firm, instead chose to become a community organizer in the toughest neighborhoods and on the grittiest streets of Chicago….a man who was elected to the Illinois state legislature and then to the U.S. Senate and who, in both bodies, quickly earned a reputation as a smart, effective, and respected legislator and leader.
Now Barack Obama is not only running for President of the United States, he is changing the way American political campaigns are conducted. He is showing that our leaders can once again be viewed with respect and admiration. Perhaps most importantly, he is inspiring a whole new generation of Americans to become engaged in the civic life of our country.
Barack Obama is sending a clear and unmistakable message to people of all generations—to people of all colors, of all faiths, of all partisan persuasions, of all life styles — that America ‘s problems and challenges belong to all of us, that opportunities are and must be universal, and that hope, optimism, determination, responsibility and sacrifice should be shared qualities and characteristics.
Four decades ago, another young Senator challenged us to greatness by demanding that we face up to our responsibilities to make this world a better place—to fight for justice at home and abroad, to work for peace, to overcome the ravages of poverty and disease. As Robert Kennedy said then, “All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity”
The same could be said today. It is a time when we need to, and can, call upon the better angels of our spirit, when we can end the politics of division and false choices. It is a time when we can elect a national leader who is determined that each of us can make a difference, and whose own life and career testify to the truth of that determination. We can elect a President who believes in us as much as we want to believe in him. We can, in short, elect a President who makes us proud to be Americans. And that is why we are supporting Senator Barack Obama in his quest to become the next President of the United States of America .
1/21/08 Asian Week: “Choosing Sides in the Democratic Presidential Race,”
by Maeley Tom
On Feb. 5, California has a rare opportunity to play a significant role in the presidential primary races.
Asian American and Pacific Islanders, the second largest ethnic community in California , will be courted like never before. The same goes for other states with a high concentration of AAPI voters, such as New York, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Nevada, and of course, Hawaiï.
I have been following the top three Democratic presidential campaigns – Clinton, Edwards and Obama – with great interest. Each candidate’s platform shares the same commitment to specific issues of concern to the AAPI, whether it be the Iraq war crisis, the economy, diversity within the administration, immigration reform, family reunification, education, affordable health care, or hate crimes and racial profiling. The candidates’ approaches to these issues vary, but their end goals are the same.
All three campaigns are engaged with the AAPI communities and have hired key AAPIs in their campaigns. However, I still feel that the AAPI community does not get its fair share of resources, public visibility and personal attention from presidential campaigns as a whole. The impact of this community’s voting bloc will be realized when election results demonstrate that this community’s vote can actually make a difference between victory and defeat in key states with the largest number of electoral votes. But, it is up to this community to deliver the votes to make the impact.
The line-up of AAPI supporters for each candidate demonstrates that the community is divided among the three Democratic candidates, based on supporters� perception of the candidates� experience, public policies, character and relationship with the AAPI community.
AAPI for Obama: Obama was the winner of two AAPI straw polls conducted by the Asian American Action Fund chapters in Los Angeles and Chicago . His AAPI Web site, created by Eugene Kang of Chicago , has generated an energetic base of youth and first-time voters.
His AAPI National Leadership Council represents an interesting cross section of influential AAPI Californians, such as Assemblyman Ted Lieu, chairman of the AAPI Legislative Caucus; Angela Oh , former member of President Clinton’s Initiative on Race; Eddie Wong, executive director of the Center for Asian American Media; former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan; Paul Igasaki, former vice chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Stanley Toy, president of Team Healthcare; Henry Lo, Garvey School Board; Russell Leong, editor of Amerasia Journal UCLA; and Hydra Mendoza, S.F. Board of Education commissioner. There is also a strong representation from the AAPI media and entertainment industry, including actors Cary Tagawa, Kelly Hu, Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle ) and Janet Yang, producer of The Joy Luck Club. Van Taumon was just announced as Obama’s Southern California chair for APIA outreach.
1/20/08 NY Times: “All in the Family: Questions for Maya Soetoro-Ng [Obama’s half-sister]
Interview by Deborah Solomon
Q: Let’s talk about the Democratic presidential caucuses taking place on Feb. 19, in Hawaii , where Barack Obama was born. Will you be campaigning for your brother?
A: Yes, of course. I have taken time off from my various teaching jobs in Honolulu and just got back from two months of campaigning. I have a bumper sticker on my car that says: “1-20-09. End of an Error.”
Q: What kind of bumper sticker is that? It doesn’t even mention a candidate by name.
A: That’s just one bumper sticker. I have three others on my car, including one that says, “Women for Obama.”
Q: What is the age difference between you and Barack?
A: I’m nine years younger. Our mother, after divorcing Barack’s father, met my father at the same place, the East-West Center on the University of Hawaii .
Q: Barack’s father was Kenyan, and yours was Indonesian. Your mom was what used to be called a freethinker, a white anthropologist from Wichita , Kan. , who moved to Jakarta after her second marriage.
A: My mother was a courageous woman. And she had such tremendous love for life. She loved the natural world. She would wake us up in the middle of the night to go look at the moon. When I was a teenager, this was a source of great frustration because I wanted to sleep. She died at only 52, from ovarian cancer. Today, more than anything, I wish all the women in Barack’s life – our mother, his wife and daughters, my daughter, our grandmother, his Kenyan half-sister – I wish we could all sit together and gaze at the moon.
Q: Your mom has been described as an atheist.
A: I wouldn’t have called her an atheist. She was an agnostic. She basically gave us all the good books – the Bible, the Hindu Upanishads and the Buddhist scripture, the Tao Te Ching – and wanted us to recognize that everyone has something beautiful to contribute.
Q: You didn’t mention the Koran in that list, although Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world.
A: I should have mentioned the Koran. Mom didn’t really emphasize the Koran, but we read little parts of it. We did listen to morning prayers in Indonesia .
Q: Are you worried about mentioning Islam because it has already been evoked by negative campaigners trying to tarnish your brother?
A: I’m not worried. I don’t want to deny Islam. I think it’s obviously very important that we have an understanding of Islam, a better understanding. At the same time, it has been erroneously attached to my brother. The man has been a Christian for 20 years.
Q: What religion are you?
A: Philosophically, I would say that I am Buddhist.
Q: What effect do you think your mother’s wanderlust had on Barack?
A: Maybe part of the reason he was so attracted to Chicago and his wife, Michelle, was that sense of rootedness. He elected to make a choice, whereas Mom sort of wandered through the world collecting treasures.
Q: Do you think of your brother as black?
A: Yes, because that is how he has named himself. Each of us has a right to name ourselves as we will.
Q: Do you think of yourself as white?
A: No. I’m half white, half Asian. I think of myself as hybrid. People usually think I’m Latina when they meet me. That’s what made me learn Spanish. That sort of culturally mixed identity was seen as an anomaly when you were growing up. Of course, there was a time when that felt like unsteady terrain, and it made me feel vulnerable. You were ahead of the multicultural curve. That’s one of the things our mother taught us. It can all belong to you. If you have sufficient love and respect for a part of the world, it can be a meaningful part of who you are, even if it wasn’t delivered at birth.
Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Deborah Solomon


1/9/08 http://cbs2.com: “L.A. Leaders Decide To Back Barack,”
Los Angeles (CBS) ― Amid cheers at a City Hall rally, six Southland leaders, including Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-El Segundo), endorsed Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama Wednesday, saying he is the only presidential candidate who will unite voters.
“Sen. Obama has one of the most inclusive campaigns in history,” Lieu said. “Whether you have oval eyes or slanted eyes, whether you’re a black, white, brown or a shade of yellow, whether you are a gay or straight, whether your family came here 100 years ago or you just became a citizen, whether you’re a Democrat or an independent, you will have a seat at his table in his administration,” he said.

12/20/07: endorsed by Wilma Chan, former California Assemblywoman, and Sam Yoon, a Korean American Boston City Councilman.

12/17/07 The Asian American Fund of Greater Chicago, a Democratic Party group, has endorsed Barack Obama for President. This endorsement is only by AAA-Fund of Greater Chicago, which is a local chapter of the national AAA-Fund organization. The national AAA-Fund will not be making an endorsement in the presidential race.

7/23/07 Miami Herald: “Clinton, Obama address La Raza: Two of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, but none of the Republican contenders, addressed the National Council of La Raza convention Sunday in Miami Beach.
by Beth Reinhard
Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vowed Sunday to crusade for immigration reform if elected president, though they didn’t promise everything asked of them at the nation’s largest gathering of Hispanic community leaders.
Clinton did not demand an end to federal raids on undocumented immigrants. Obama would not guarantee a visit to the immigrant-heavy agricultural area of California’s Central Valley in between his fundraising trips to Los Angeles.
But their mere presence at the Miami Beach Convention Center — along with their agreement with much of the National Council of La Raza agenda on immigration, healthcare and education — gratified an audience ready to play a pivotal role in the 2008 campaign.
”I’m proud to have not one, but two front-runners in the race for president of the United States,” said Janet Murguia, La Raza’s president. “I think it says a lot about our power and our energy to shape this country.”
Democrat candidate John Edwards was also invited but didn’t make it. The three leading Republican candidates — Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain — did not attend. They also turned down invitations to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference in Orlando last month, though all of the major Democratic candidates were there.
”It’s a shame,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami. “It’s because immigration became such a controversial topic. But it’s not the only topic Hispanics are interested in. . . Come and speak to us about the issues you care about.”
Clinton and Obama sounded similar notes in decrying the inflammatory debate surrounding the failed legislation that would have allowed millions of illegal immigrants to eventually seek citizenship. They also echoed each other’s calls for universal healthcare and tuition aid for the children of unauthorized immigrants.
Clinton enjoyed somewhat of a home-field advantage. Murguia worked in her husband’s presidential administration, and La Raza’s past president has endorsed her campaign. Clinton could also point to one of her most prominent Hispanic supporters in the audience, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Obama’s campaign put out a list of Florida endorsements Friday that included few big names or prominent Hispanic officials. What he lacked in support from the political establishment, his campaign tried to make up for in grass-roots activism, dispatching dozens of young volunteers to hand out stickers and placards at the conference.
Obama also had a unique message: that the civil rights movements led by an African-American, Martin Luther King Jr., and a Mexican-American, Cesar Chavez, were inextricably linked. Both African-American and Hispanic children suffer disproportionately without health insurance and high-achieving public schools.
”Our separate struggles are really one struggle,” Obama said, echoing King. “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Clinton, probably the most famous working mother in the world, talked about how she had tried to provide the best life for her own daughter.
”Why can’t we do that for everyone’s child?” she asked. “And why can’t we do a better job of creating those opportunities?”
Clinton looked tired, perhaps because she and other senators were up all night Tuesday trying to secure support for a bill withdrawing troops from Iraq.
Some people in the audience lept to their feet when Obama called for the end of the war.
Several states with large Hispanic populations — including Florida, California and Nevada — will host some of the earliest presidential primaries next year.
”We have to raise our voice and vote, so we can be part of the solution,” said Margaret Delmont Sanchez, vice president of Hispanic Unity of Florida.
“That’s why we’re here today. We want to hear what these candidates have to offer.”

7/1/07 Miami Herald: Voted for immigration reform bill
6/19/07 Los Angeles Times: “Obama acts to check campaign memo’s fallout.  The missive, which he calls ‘stupid’ and ‘caustic,’ poked fun at ties between Clinton and India,”
By Peter Wallsten
Washington: Sen. Barack Obama scrambled Monday to soothe hurt feelings among some of his strongest supporters after they complained that a memo distributed by his presidential campaign was offensive to Indian Americans.
Obama telephoned several Indian American activists to express his regret for the memo, which poked fun at the ties between India and his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York . He told the Des Moines Register editorial board that the document was “stupid” and “caustic.” And in a letter widely distributed to Indian American supporters, Obama said their hard feelings were “justified.” To read the complete letter, [see below].
“Our campaign made a mistake,” he wrote. “Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign – and in particular myself – responsible for the mistake.”
The memo, headlined, “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)’s Personal Financial and Political Ties to India,” was prepared by Obama’s opposition research department and distributed to reporters last week in exchange for a promise that they not reveal where it came from, a common practice by campaigns. The memo documented relationships between Indian Americans and Clinton, and noted that her husband, former President Clinton, had accepted speaking fees from Cisco, a firm that has been criticized for moving U.S. jobs to India . It noted Sen. Clinton’s ties to a consulting firm that assists U.S. companies in moving jobs to India and other countries.
The reference to the northern Indian state of Punjab alluded to comments in which Clinton joked with guests at a 2006 fundraiser held by an Indian American supporter that her popularity meant she could “certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily.”
The memo, which became public after it was obtained by the Clinton campaign, drew criticism from Indian American groups who complained that it played on stereotypes. One group with close ties to Obama’s campaign, South Asians for Obama, posted a scathing note on its website late Sunday saying its members were “shocked and dismayed.”
“The main thing people have a problem with is the implication that having ties to the Indian American community, that fundraising from Indian Americans in the United States, is a problem,” group spokesman Dave Kumar said. “It goes against the inclusive nature of the campaign.”
The memo, which was described in The Times’ political blog Monday afternoon, was notable because Obama had premised his candidacy on rising above the “slash and burn politics that have become the custom in Washington .”
The flap was the latest in a series of missteps by Obama’s campaign as the first-term senator and former Illinois state senator, in challenging Clinton , attempts to overtake a savvy candidate backed by one of the most potent national political machines in history.
Kumar said his group was satisfied that Obama was genuinely upset about the memo’s content and caught unawares by its distribution. By late Monday, the Obama letter was posted on the group’s website.
The controversy foreshadowed potential complications for both him and Clinton on a major debate unfolding in the Democratic primary: outsourcing of U.S. jobs.
As both candidates seek to raise money from influential Indian Americans and U.S. firms that have moved jobs abroad, both also are wooing support from labor unions that are demanding protections against further efforts to shift jobs overseas.

6/18/07: Senator Obama Responds to the Indian American Community
On Monday, June 18, Senator Barack Obama issued the following statement in response to the concerns expressed by the Indian American community regarding the Hillary Clinton opposition research memo. Senator Obama personally requested that we distribute this letter to the entire SAFO community:
I wanted to respond personally to the concerns you expressed regarding the recent research memo that our campaign put into circulation.
I believe that your concerns with the memo are justified. To begin with, the memo did not reflect my own views on the importance of America �s relationship with India . I have long believed that the best way to promote U.S. economic growth and opportunity for American workers is to continually improve the skills of our own workforce and invest in our own scientific research, technological capacity and infrastructure, rather than to try to insulate ourselves from the global economy.
More importantly, the memo’s caustic tone, and its focus on contributions by Indian-Americans to the Clinton campaign, was potentially hurtful, and as such, unacceptable. The memo also ignored my own long-standing relationship to and support from the Indian-American community.
In sum, our campaign made a mistake. Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign – and in particular myself – responsible for the mistake. We have taken appropriate action to prevent errors like this from happening in the future.
Please feel free to share this letter with other members of your organization or leaders in the Indian-American community. I look forward to our continued friendship and exchange of ideas during the course of this campaign, and beyond.
Barack Obama


5/16/07 San Francisco Chronicle: “Clinton pushes hard to lock up Asian support”
by Carla Marinucci
Obama also has aimed his message at the Asian and Pacific Islander vote by noting his own diverse background: His mother, from Kansas, was married first to a Kenyan — his father — and later to an Indonesian, and he lived both in Indonesia and Hawaii as a child.
Asian Americans, African Americans and Latinos make up 40 percent of the state’s voters. “It’s an electorate that is extremely diverse … and can swing the election,” said pollster Mark Baldassare, director of the Public Policy Institute of California.
While Latinos are the state’s fastest-growing ethnic voting group, Asian American voters have become an increasingly attractive target for political candidates in the nation’s most-populous state for two reasons: a jump in overall Asian population from 3.8 million to 4.7 million between 2000 and 2005, and their higher rate of citizenship — 71 percent, according to a report by the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA.
While only about 5 percent of state voters are Asian, their numbers are increasing — as is their affluence and education, says Baldassare, who says that more than one-third of all Asians in California are in the Bay Area.


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