AAPIs for Biden/Harris Hold Online Town Hall

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On Oct. 15, an online meeting was convened by elected officials and surrogates for the Biden/Harris campaign, including: (bottom row, from left) Connie Chung, Khizr Khan, Rep. Judy Chu; (middle row, from left) Rep. Grace Meng, Howard Ou, Rep. Stephanie Murphy; (toop row, from left) Rep. Mark Takano, Hannah Kim, Delegate Mark Keam.

“AAPIs Assemble!,” a press town hall with AAPI members of Congress and top surrogates of the Biden/Harris campaign, was held online on Oct. 15.

“Over the past two weeks, the AAPIs Assemble virtual bus tour made 12 stops and 12 key states,” said Amit Jani, Biden for President’s national AAPI director. “These are all key battleground states that we need to win across the country where we will make a difference and be the margin of victory.

“We reached AAPI voters from all backgrounds where they are with more than 20,000 views across all stops in the final weeks of this campaign. We know that the AAPI vote is so crucial and we’re not leaving any votes behind.”

“With over 215,000 Americans dead and millions unemployed … ten months into this pandemic, Donald Trump and Mike Pence still don’t have a national plan to contain the virus and save lives,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “Trump is spewing racism and hate, using xenophobic terms like ‘China plague and kung flu’ to deflect blame for his failed response to contain the virus. And he’s done it even though he knows that it’s led to a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in recent months.

“That’s unacceptable. And it’s why we need to elect a president who believes in science and who has a plan to defeat the coronavirus. It’s why we need a president who will fight for all of us, someone who rejects this kind of hateful rhetoric that is too often used to divide us, and someone who believes that America’s diversity is our greatest strength.

“That’s all we have to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. And that’s why we did the bus tour. It’s why we decided to get the AAPIs to go on this virtual bus tour to engage with AAPI voters where they are and to share what a Biden-Harris administration will do for our community.

“We went to 12 key battleground states where AAPI voters have tremendous power and potential to make a difference. States like Texas, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where AAPIs make up at least one to two percent of the electorate and can be the margin of victory.

“I can say that at each stop that I went to, I was amazed by the incredible energy and momentum I saw from the AAPI community. Even in this virtual environment, the growing power of our AAPI electorate was so palpable through the number of attendees who came to these events and which were then followed by phone banks and other ways to mobilize AAPI voters.

“And with just 19 days left until the election, we’re moving full steam ahead to make sure that we win. Over the next 19 days, we will continue working to earn every vote by engaging AAPI voters where they are through in-language materials and targeted at AAPI outreach. Together, AAPI voters can restore leadership, decency and integrity to the White House.”

“In just a few days, we had over 20,000 views on these bus stops and what’s even more important are the networks and the people that they will continue to reach out to in their process of relational organizing and joining the movement of team Biden-Harris,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. “It was really important for our community to have a historic, unprecedented bus tour like this, where the team came to the community, where they are and listen to their concerns and listen to how much we need to get this country back on track.

“Our AAPI community is not always accustomed to being reached out to by either party. And so the fact that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ team was willing to do this and to make sure that they were listening to their concerns and reaching out to our AAPI communities made a huge difference. As an AAPI, I am thankful for the historic investments that the Biden-Harris campaign has made.

“The investments that the Biden team has made in multilingual ads on TV, on radio, in hiring organizers who speak multiple languages and who can communicate to our community in their language — over 19 languages — has really made such a big difference.

“Just a few weeks ago, Congress passed legislation condemning bigotry towards Asian Americans and the Republican Party would not vote for that. They would not stand up with our Asian American community. And so we’re tired of being scapegoats. We need to make sure that we will elect someone who will wake up every day thinking about ways to keep our communities healthy and to put our economy back on track.

“In most of the battleground states, if you take a look at the numbers, the number of eligible AAPI voters outnumber the number of votes that Democrats lost by in 2016. So our community can and will make a difference.”

“It’s high time that America took its rightful place or retakes its place as a moral force for good on the globe,” said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside). “How can we call out Uighur concentration camps [in China]when we separate children at our border? How shameful that is for our country when we do not allow refugees into our country — can we imagine if [Rep.] Stephanie Murphy’s family was not able to make it into the United States because we had a policy of not admitting refugees seeking asylum in our country? How can we be a moral voice when we have a president of the United States attacking a Hispanic judge in California in talking the way he does?

“Anybody with a reputation and stature who comes into the service of this president has their reputation tarnished and they lower themselves. ‘America’s mayor’ Rudy Giuliani yesterday had footage of him mimicking and mocking a Chinese accent. It taught me something about the way in which Mr. Giuliani regards Asian people. They have totally disregarded the humanity of Asian Americans when they will gladly use words like ‘kung flu’ or celebrate the fact that the president uses words like ‘kung flu.’ We need decency and honor back in the oval office.

“How can we exert moral leadership among other nations to not do the things that we find so shameful and those other countries if we have allowed it to occur in our own country?”

“When I was a baby, my family fled communist Vietnam to escape persecution and seek a better future,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.). “My parents have decided it was better to perhaps die together in search of freedom than to live on in darkness. And my story could have ended there at sea. We almost didn’t make it. We ran out of fuel and food, and we were hopelessly adrift and a U.S. Navy ship rescued my family. They helped us get to a Malaysian refugee camp. And from there a Lutheran church in Virginia sponsored our passage to the United States, where we eventually became proud American citizens.

“It was so important to see Connie Chung on TV as a young Asian person, because it unveiled the potential of what you could be in this country. And I think the same can be said of Michelle Kwan. They, as Asian Americans who succeeded in America, provided a vision for young Asian Americans across this country about the potential of this country. And so I think it’s so incredibly important for us to send the first Asian American woman to be vice president, to be a part of the White House, because that’s going to inspire a whole other generation of Asian Americans who see the potential of this incredible country.

“A Biden-Harris administration is going to show Americans whatever race they are, whatever zip code they’re born in, whatever circumstance their family is in the potential of this country, the potential of the American dream. And it is in sharp contrast with the past four years where we have seen the Trump Administration chip away at this fundamental promise to every American family through its misguided, dark and divisive policies and rhetoric, and that has to stop immediately. And we have the opportunity to make sure it stops.”

“Virginia has a long, dark history including the Confederacy,” said Mark Keam, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. “I’m coming from a state that is extremely conservative and very much a white-dominated old guard. When I moved out here 20-odd years ago for a job and eventually getting married and settling down, I wasn’t sure that I would ever have a place in the Commonwealth of Virginia for an Asian immigrant like me. But what happened over the last 20 odd years tracks what’s happened to our community across the country. The reality is that most Asians and Asian immigrants didn’t really get a chance to live our American dream until the last couple of decades.

“We (Virginians) have voted conservative and Republican for pretty much the entire last 250 years. It wasn’t until a young man named Barack Obama and the gentleman named Joe Biden were on the ticket in Virginia in 2008 that we broke that trend of voting red. It was Joe Biden being on the ticket that changed the history for Virginia.

“It is in that same timeframe — from 2008 to where we are today, 2020 — that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had grown in such a huge number right here in the commonwealth that we have now, as Judy Chu always reminds us, gone from the marginalized to the margin of victory.”

“Throughout my 35 years in my career, I’ve experienced so much discrimination, not only for being Chinese, but for being a woman,” said Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist Connie Chung. “And the way I learned to deal with it, as I’m sure all of you have, is you forge forward, you move on and you don’t let it get you down because the way we can overcome it is to have a voice.

“Our voice is to stand up for ourselves, stand up for Asians because we are proud to be Asians. We’re proud to be Chinese. We’re proud to be Japanese — whatever we are — and exercise our voice. We are also proud to be American citizens. The way we can exercise our voice is to vote. It’s one of the reasons why I decided to come out of the closet and come off the sidelines and try to urge all Asians to get out there and use your voice.

“But not only that — use your voice to vote for Biden and Harris. I think it’s so important because they care about us. Joe Biden has integrity. I covered him when I was covering Capitol Hill back in the ’60s and ’70s — he’s a decent man. And Kamala Harris is one of us. She’s an Asian. She gets it. She completely gets it.

“I urge you to join me, join my parents who would have been so proud to say that they too would vote for Biden and Harris, because we Asians, remarkably, can make a difference in this election. Empower yourself, empower us as a voice and empower this country.”

“Joe Biden said that Charlottesville, Va. played an important role in his decision to run for the office, run for the soul of America,” said Gold Star father Khizr Khan. “What is the soul of America? I’d point to each and every one of you, your words, the concern that you have in your heart at this very moment, which is conveyed by your words and by your actions to the entire country, is the soul of America.

“You don’t have to go too far to look for it. It is within you — your leadership, your actions, you are giving hope to the country. That is the soul of America. Each and every one of you — your time has made you candle-bearers in the darkest moment of this history … And candle-bearers don’t stand on the sidelines. They walk front and center. This is the time to walk front and center. You will make the difference.”

“Only 65 percent of eligible AAPI voters in the 2016 election voted,” said world-renowned figure skater Michelle Kwan. “I often think of my parents, who immigrated to the United States chasing what we all know as the American dream … I think of my parents barely making ends meet and letting their baby girl go figure skating and dreaming of one day being at the Olympics and one day working for the next president of the United States.

“I think that’s what’s at stake in these elections. It’s really the American dream. And we need a president that continues to fight for everybody, not just those on the top. The campaign itself has been making historic levels of investments in Asian American outreach from staff hires to media buys and to voter outreach.”

“This AAPI tour has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Asian Americans are a force to be reckoned with,” said actor and comedian Nik Dodani. “And that South Asian Americans in particular are proving to be a potent force in this election. There are millions of South Asian voters in the country, many of us in swing states, and we vote blue at ridiculously high levels. Just last night the Biden-Harris campaign hosted a first-of-its-kind virtual fundraiser called South Asian Block Party, where we raised over a quarter million dollars in just a couple of hours.

“We should want our elected officials to not just look like us, but also speak to, with and for us. And that is why Kamala Harris’ nomination and her presence on this ticket with the fabulous Joe Biden means so much to our community — the first black and Indian woman on a presidential ticket. We have the chance to send an auntie to the White House. I can’t wait for the Diwali party in the rose garden next year. Vote for Auntie, vote for Uncle — let’s win this thing.”

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