WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Victory Fund — the first and only Asian American Super PAC (Political Action Committee), which is focused on mobilizing AAPI voters — has endorsed Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, citing as its overriding rationale the conviction by its members that the former Vice President is the one person who can defeat President Donald Trump.
Longtime Democratic Party activist and fund-raiser Shekar Narasimhan, the founder and chairman of the AAPI Victory Fund, in announcing the endorsement on Jan. 17 said, “We believe that Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat Trump and lead our country.”
“Out of all the presidential candidates, he has the most experience and cares deeply about AAPI issues. In our view, Joe can lead us to a safer, more stable world, with less inequality and more justice,” he said.
However, Narasimhan said, “We make this endorsement with enormous respect for the three AAPI candidates (entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard(D.-Hawaii), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D.-Calif.), who dropped out on Dec. 3 and others who entered the presidential race.”
“There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done in the next ten months, and AAPIs are more engaged than ever,” he noted, and added, “We are committed to continuing our work for 2020 victories and delivering one million new voters for Joe Biden to win the Presidency and for Democrats to increase their House majority and to take back the Senate.”
In an interview with India Abroad, Narasimhan said that making this endorsement at this time was imperative was because “this is the critical moment in this campaign — Iowa (Caucus) is about to happen and the rest of the primaries unfold quickly, and the campaigns are deciding upon their strategies to win the primaries and to win the general election--and if you want to have a seat at the table in these campaigns and be able to influence policy, how money is spent, who’s who in the campaign, this is it.”
“It’s the stage where it’s a critical moment for our community and we looked at the field and found the number one thing our community is telling us is they want a Democratic candidate who they believe can defeat Trump and our belief at the end of our interviews of the seven candidates face-to-face, including Joe Biden, we were convinced this is the one person who can defeat him,” he said.
When pointed out that progressives led by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D.Wash.) and Ro Khanna (D.-Calif.) are supporting Sens. Bernie Sanders, and political operative Sonal Shah and Silicon Valley tech veteran Swati Mylavarapu, are mobilizing Asian Americans for South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Narasimhan acknowledged, “You are never going to satisfy everybody –people are going to support who they are going to support.”
Narasimhan said, “Any level of engagement for any of the candidates is fantastic, and so, we want to encourage all that. We are not discouraging anybody, but we are making a statement to our community that a group of leaders got together, reached a consensus, and said, this is the candidate who can beat Trump, and we made a commitment to support him.”
“And, at the end of the day, we will support whoever the Democratic nominee is, but we believe Joe Biden will be the nominee and we believe he can defeat Trump,” he said.
Narasimhan said that during a recent interaction with Biden in Los Angeles, Calif., the AAPI Victory Fund leadership had “found that he shares our values and agreed to every single thing we talked about in terms of our priorities, and then we asked him, ‘Ok, now, where can we help you.”
Consequently, besides the timing of the endorsement, which is so critical “to be able to make a difference,” he said that the Victory Fund was poised to hit the ground running in states like Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and California—all with significant AAPI populations—where primaries “are coming up in the next 45 days.”
Narasimhan said that during their interaction with Biden, “we also pointed out to him, the high percentage of Asian Americans who are from Muslim countries or of Muslim origin themselves, and why we all now feel so threatened,” in the wake of the xenophobia, bigotry and racism of Trump and his cohorts.
“We spoke of the importance of family reunification, and we highlighted our issues and said, we need you to talk about these issues also –how we could have that influence and make sure that happens because as much as we believe in you, we want you to believe in us also,” he noted.
“We also made another point to him that a very large number of people in our communities are businesspeople, particularly small businesses, which is the life-blood of our communities and of this country, and they do care about taxes and government also—it’s not one-sided—and that we also care about social issues and issues about justice.”
Narasimhan said, “We told him that the value of work in our community is that ‘sweat equity’ is the biggest thing we bring, and so many Korean American families came here and all of them work, and you know how it is in the Indian American and South Asian American communities and so, how does one value that in a way it is appreciated by the government, because it’s not just about a balance sheet that the loan is made against.”
Narasimhan said Biden had agreed saying, “I will make sure that you guys are in every room where these conversations take place about taxation, regulation, small business and credit, and that he understands exactly what we are saying.”
Narasimhan acknowledged that there was also an extended discussion with Biden about health care and that AAPI communities can contribute to improving it, “given that one out of every five doctors and one out of every four nurses is Asian American. So, this is a massive issue for us, not only in terms of employment, but also in terms of care and we want to make sure it is done in a thoughtful way and incrementally, so that it solves the problem.”
“When we hear of more radical alternatives, we get scared,” but Biden had assured them that while he “wants coverage for 100 percent of Americans, I also want it to be done right and it has to be done over a period of time –it can’t be done dramatically.”
Narasimhan said that the AAPI leadership, also had impressed upon the candidate that “immigration is not just a Latino issue,” and informed him of the hundreds of Asians in American jails and facing deportation and that “there are 400,000 undocumented Indians and 1.2 million undocumented Asians. So, listen to us too, we have a voice, we have a problem, we need your help, and he was totally receptive.”
Asked where the Victory Fund goes from here in tangible terms now that it has endorsed Biden, he said that “we will mobilize, we will canvas, we will bring volunteers to canvas other communities, and we will work in conjunction with other groups that are already doing this work.”
“And, of course, we have to raise some money too –we have to do that,” Narasimhan acknowledged. “But we did not endorse him because we are going to give him millions of dollars. We endorsed him because we want to deliver him a million new voters—that’s the real goal.”
Narasimhan said the strategy now for the Victory Fund would be “how do we deliver these votes and just not be a money pit, where all they come to us is to ask for money.”