Topic: Blog Tours
Probably no one was redder faced at what happened during a fund raising luncheon in San Francisco in February 2007 then Hillary Clinton. Reporters from Sing Tao Daily, World Journal and China Press were summarily turned away at the door with the lame excuse they represented the "foreign press" and the event was only open to local reporters. The three publications are highly respected and read intensely by legions of Asian-Americans in the Bay Area and beyond. They routinely cover a range of local and national issues. Clinton realized the goof. A spokesperson apologized, and a month later she hustled back to the Bay Area and met with nearly every Asian reporter she could lay her hands on at a special meeting.
She had little choice. The new political reality is that Asian-voters can help make or break a candidate, even a presidential campaign. The A-Team Democratic and Republican presidential candidates now know this. They did something in 2007 that would have been unthinkable a couple of presidential elections back. They worked extra hard to woo Asian-American voters. That was a stunning reversal of the past. A decade ago, Asian-American voters were concentrated mostly in California, Hawaii and New York. Nationally, they were a speck on the political chart and a bare afterthought to the top presidential contenders.
But in 2006, Asian-Americans numbered close to 15 million nationally. More than 70 percent were either American-born or naturalized citizens. The majority is English speaking, a significant percentage are college educated, business and professional persons. They are more likely to vote than Latinos. They make up an important voting bloc in a dozen states which include the battleground states of Missouri, Illinois, and Florida. The number of Asian-American registered voters has jumped in Nevada, Arizona, and California. These states are among the first to hold their primaries. A big win in any of them propels a presidential candidate onto the fast track to their party's nomination.
This didn't escape Obama. He didn't shirk from blatantly playing the Asian card. Within days after Clinton's meeting with Asian-American journalists, Obama issued a statement in which he gushed over Asian-American and Pacific Islander contributions to American society. He reminded them that they could consider him an Asian since he lived in Hawaii and Indonesia as a child. It played well. Obama almost certainly would play up his Pacific Islander childhood in campaign stump speeches during the campaign. His message was clear: Asian-Americans should back me because I'm the only candidate who is one with, if not, of you.
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