Two contenders, two different plays
By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Obama camp’s local methods “There are people that will not vote for a person of color,” former Washington state Gov. Gary Locke told a gathering of voters at an event sponsored by the Washington State Asian American Pacific Islanders for Obama on Saturday night, Oct. 4th. He told the young voters in attendance at the Typhoon! restaurant in downtown Seattle that regardless of the polls, “not to take the election for granted.”
The former Washington state governor, along with California congressman Mike Honda, spoke to a gathering of predominantly young Asian American Pacific Islander voters, encouraging them to get out the word to vote for Democratic nominee Barack Obama in November.
Locke passionately advocated for Obama, telling the gathered audience that “(Obama) is focusing on issues we care about most.” Locke spoke of Sen. Obama’s plan for health care, immigration and education. He also outlined the Republican record of taking care of big corporations and excluding working class AAPIs from its agenda.
Congressman Mike Honda traveled from California to attend the evening function. A friend of Locke, the 67-year-old congressman joked that it was the first time in a long time that Locke did not use a teleprompter for a speech. “Use yourselves as a resource to become instruments of communication for the community,” Honda advised, addressing the young AAPI voters to get involved in the Obama campaign.
In addition to the support for Sen. Obama, Courtney Gregoire spoke on behalf of her mother, Gov. Chris Gregoire. She reminded the crowd of Gregoire’s legislative record in championing causes touching the AAPI community.
The event included a raffle of various Obama posters, T-shirts and buttons. At the conclusion of the event, Locke and Honda donned Obama-inspired T-shirts from Rock Paper Scissors and took pictures with attendees. The T-shirts depicted Obama during his days as a high school basketball player.
The McCain camp’s national methods
The Washington State Republican Party has enlisted “The A Team” in the stretch drive for presidential hopeful John McCain. According to the Washington state coordinator on Asian Pacific Islander issues, Ted Choi Tam, “The A Team” is comprised of leaders within various Asian Pacific Islander communities. Tam indicated that the McCain campaign is focusing its efforts on states where the margin of victory is close for McCain such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
“The A Team,” nicknamed after the 1980s television show featuring Mr. T, has been working together each election cycle since 2000. They have conducted voter outreach to support their candidates including voter registration and phone banks to encourage API voters to vote Republican.
As far as this year’s national election goes, Tam stated that locally he has seen a lot of McCain support from Vietnamese voters. “McCain has grown compassionate for the (Vietnamese) community,” stated Tam. McCain was a former prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Tam indicated that the great support from the Vietnamese community is due to their gratitude for McCain’s service during Vietnam.
Instead of focusing on Washington state, the state campaign for McCain will be using its resources on phone banks to target ethnic groups within battleground states. The targets will focus on contacting people with a historical record of Republican voting in reminding them to vote for McCain.
According to Tam, a former Democrat that has been involved with the state GOP since 1984, many Asian American small business owners are concerned that an Obama administration will raise taxes. He noted the numerous Asian American entrepreneurs in the local community that would be affected. Tam indicated that McCain would encourage small businesses and ensure that taxes would not affect them.
In addition to taxes, national security, free trade, education and immigration are all key issues which API voters are concerned with, and Tam advocates that McCain is the correct choice for president. ♦
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.