Second Democratic presidential debate: All Indian American eyes on Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris; photo credit: Indian American Impact Fund

The California senator, one of the front runners, will appear on the second day of the debate, on June 31.

The Kumar household in Fremont, California, is busy prepping up for a midweek late night catch up with friends. Sujata Kumar, a working professional in an IT company, is making a last-minute run to Costco for nachos and drinks. The Kumars are looking ahead to their friends coming over on Tuesday night to watch TV together over some drinks and chips.

No, this is not a sporting event that they are going watch together. Instead, the Indian American families would be getting together to watch the second Democratic presidential debate, and they will be especially following one candidate.

“We are particularly following the presidential journey of Kamala Harris,” says Sujata Kumar. “While Indian Americans have always contributed to America, having a major presidential candidate who speaks about her Indian mom coming to US to study defying traditions, does strike a chord with all of us who charted a similar journey of our own.”

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She adds, “Also the school is off so it (the debate) gives us a good excuse to sit with friends and chat over politics on a week night.”

The second debate will be held at the Fox Theatre in Detroit over two days, on Tuesday, July 30, and Wednesday, July 31. It is being hosted by CNN.

The Kumars are not the only ones who are interested in the second Democratic debate.

New Jersey-based Alam Khan, who came to the US more than two decades ago, would also be watching the debates closely. “Former Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are set to face-off again in the second round,” he says. “Both enjoy popularity amongst the Indian American community. We would also be watching for Cory Booker who is especially popular amongst Indians in New Jersey.”

As the Democratic primary season enters a crucial phase, there is an increased interest and intrigue this time, especially because of the diverse set of presidential candidates that are seeking the highest office of the land.

Today, more than ever before, Indian Americans continue to expand their roles in American politics. Their participation ranges from working behind the scenes in crucial roles with many campaigns to contributing and raising top dollars to various candidates.

Harris would be appearing on the second night of round 2 of the debate with great momentum, after performing well in the first debate. The California senator continues to be one of the most popular candidates among the Indian American community because of her heritage.

She has often cited the role her Indian mom played in shaping her dreams and aspirations. She has also spoken about her Indian grandfather who participated in the Indian freedom movement. As a daughter of immigrant parents who came to the US to build a new life, she represents the ultimate dream of immigrants in America. Recently there were also reports that Harris, the only prominent presidential candidate with an Indian heritage, raised more than $387,000 from the Indian American community, which is more than any other democratic candidate during their 2020 bid.

“Truth be told, I knew many Indian Americans, especially women who were rooting for Hillary Clinton with much more enthusiasm,” says Aakriti Singh, a new mom and San Diego resident. “But perhaps what connects here is when they look at Harris background. Even though she has not been overtly Indian she is still admirable for the fact that she has been a daughter of working class parents who dreamed the American dream.”

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