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Indian American vote important for battleground states: DNC Chair

Washington: DNC Chairman Tom Perez has urged the Indian community to vote as it was ‘the most powerful, non-violent tool in a democratic society’ in the words of John Lewis, the civil rights icon who passed away  last week.

Perez was speaking at a virtual town hall organized by  South Asians for Biden as well as Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI)  Victory Fund, a PAC on July 18 to shore up community support for the former Vice President’s bid for the White House.

Other key party leaders and influencers at the virtual event included Biden for President Senior Advisor Julie Chavez Rodriguez, former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma, Biden Unity Task Force Economic Policy Advisor Sonal Shah, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Center for American Progress Action Fund CEO Neera Tanden. They all urged the Indian community to support Joe Biden,  emphasizing his character and history of support for the India-U.S. relationship.

Their pitch is particularly significant in “battleground States”, and at a time when the country is highly polarized on key issues including President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, immigration and racial justice.

The Indian-American and AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific-Islander community) vote could make a significant difference in the elections, Mr. Perez said, The Hindu reported.

There are about 1.3 million eligible American-Indian voters in eight battleground States, namely: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

“We lost Michigan by 10,700 votes in 2016,” Mr. Perez said making a reference to the 1,25,000 Indian-American votes in that State. “In Pennsylvania, a 1,56,000 [Indian-American voters] …we lost Pennsylvania by 42-43,000,” he said. In Wisconsin, 37,000…we lost Wisconsin by 21,000 in 2016.”

Richard Verma said that if elected in November, Joe Biden  will help shape international bodies like the United Nations so that India gets a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Vivek Murthy spoke about how, at his swearing in (2015), Mr. Biden walked backstage and knelt down in front of Mr. Murthy’s grandmother who was in a wheelchair and said, “Grandma, look at what you’ve done,” pointing to all those who had gathered there for the ceremony.

Mr. Murthy also said he had weekly conversations with Mr. Biden on COVID-19 and that the Democrat was “asking the right questions” and coming up with ideas.

Mr. Biden’s India policy credentials were discussed by some of the speakers.

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