By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Andrew Yang got a rousing reception at an evening fundraiser in downtown Seattle on Dec. 16, from more than 100 supporters. It was Yang’s second visit to this city this year.
Held at the Escala condominium complex, Gary Locke introduced the Democratic presidential candidate to the eager crowd, who paid $500, $1,000, and $2,000 per ticket to attend. The evening’s goal of raising $100,000 was exceeded.
“I cannot believe I just got introduced by Gary Locke!” exclaimed Yang as supporters cheered.
“I remember as a young Asian American looking up and see you as governor, as Secretary [of Commerce] …I thought, wow, that’s incredible. And now to be introduced by you is such an honor and privilege. I feel like the torch is being handed off to me and I know exactly what to do with it!”
Yang and Locke embraced before Yang took the microphone.
Yang said his campaign raised $10 million in the last quarter in increments of only $30 each.
“So this is a very cheap, wholesome gang to join. Our fans are almost as cheap as Bernie’s,” he joked, referring to fellow presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Yang said the money raised will go toward heavy advertising in the state of Iowa, which he described as “still very much up in the air,” and a “purple” state.
Forty-thousand manufacturing jobs were lost in Iowa alone, Yang stated.
“That’s how you go from purple to Trump winning by 8 points [in 2016].”
Trump’s campaign message was, “Make America great again,” to which then-challenger Hillary Clinton responded, “America is already great.”
But Yang said Clinton’s message did not ring true for many Americans.
“We have to acknowledge the depth and severity of the problems that many Americans are facing.”
While the nation is seeing record high corporate profits and GDP, Yang said that also comes with record high anxiety, stress, depression, financial insecurity, suicide, and drug overdoses.
“We are laser-focused on solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place,” said Yang.
The evening followed the Seattle Salon Series format— which is a short stump speech by the candidate, followed by three questions—the same questions have been asked of candidates who have come to Seattle, according to Ambassador Suzi LeVine, deputy national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
“The Seattle Salon Series is a way to meet the Democratic presidential candidates and support the Democratic infrastructure needed to ensure one of them wins,” said LeVine. “We want to help donors get to know them and choose which one(s) to support. At the same time, we want to ensure that we establish the infrastructure of grassroots organizers and technology now so that whoever wins the nomination has everything they need to win— including strong state legislatures, the House, and the Senate.”
LeVine, who served as United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein under the Obama administration, sat on Yang’s right while her husband, Eric LeVine, sat on Yang’s left.
- What is your best campaign pitch to the 100,000 or so swing voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, who voted for Trump in 2016 but voted for Obama in 2012?
Please speak to your approach for handling key geopolitical powers, including Russia, China, and Europe —and your experience with foreign policy that informs it.
What will you do to ensure that all those who are supporting you also commit to and turn out to support the eventual nominee (if that’s not you)?
- “We have to rewrite the rules of the 21st century economy to include you, your family, your community—stop confusing economic value and human value and say, ‘Your country loves you, your country values you, and you and your kids are going to be alright.’” He said in 2016, the messaging from the DNC may have come across as condescending, pushing voters towards Trump and his more appealing “bring jobs back” message.
- “It was [former Defense Secretary] James Mattis who said, the more you invest in diplomacy, then you have to buy less in ammunition. And that to me is exactly what we should be doing. Spend it on things that will make us safe and secure in the 21st century like infrastructure and try and secure our election equipment from Russian hacking. Russia is not an economic threat, but they found an underbelly in terms of our election infrastructure. After I’m president, I’ll make those [security] investments and also send a very clear, unambiguous message to Russia saying, ‘If you continue to try and undermine our democracy, we will take that as an act of hostility and aggression and we will respond very unkindly. And I believe the American people would support me on that.
Regarding China: “They have more access to more data than we do because of their non-existent privacy protections. And their algorithms are set to get smarter, faster in part because they have billions of dollars in infrastructure that the government has subsidized… The best way to manage our relationship with China is to out-compete them. I would partner with tech companies and match resources. … We are 24 years behind our technology and we need to catch up as quickly as possible.”
- I’m on the record that job one is getting Donald Trump out of office… I will support whoever the nominee is. I think I can be very helpful. This campaign is activating many people who are disaffected Trump voters, independents and libertarians, and Asian Americans. So I believe I can be helpful in defeating Donald Trump if I’m not the nominee.
Yang then answered some attendees’ questions, shook hands, and left. His next stop was Los Angeles, the site of the December Democratic presidential debate.
We cannot be more proud to have an Asian American, person of color, finally on the presidential stage,” said Locke.
Shari Song, one-time King County Council candidate, stated that Yang being “down to earth” is the reason she likes him.
Seattle attorney and ACRS board member Angelie Chong told the Northwest Asian Weekly that she and Yang attended Brown University at the same time.
They were both political science majors.
“Andrew and I were also in the Brown Tae Kwon Do Club together,” Chong said. She was a black belt, while he was a beginner. “His roundhouse kick needs improvement,” she joked.
But she said Yang has her “full backing on his ideas and proposed policies for our country.”
The event was co-hosted by Maria Semple, Jeffrey and Grace Roh, Kimberly Watson and Glenn Draper, Gilonne D’Origny, Kerry Bosworth, Rahul Sood, John Wong, and National Finance Committee Co-Chair Haeryung Shin.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.