First ever attempt by a Republican candidate to woo them in US presidential elections leaves his audience amused.
First up, full marks to everyone who guessed that President Donald Trump’s much talked about India trip was also aimed at wooing Indian American voters back home.
Just days after Trump returned from his “incredible” India trip, the Republican presidential campaign has come up with digital ads targeting for the very first time an unlikely audience – Indian Americans.
The new ads quickly caught the attention of this growing voting population in the US as they began circulating on social media and streaming services.
One ad features Trump and first lady Melania standing against the backdrop of the famed Taj Mahal with a flattering message for them.
“Indian Americans are titans of business, masters of the arts and innovate technology like few others,” it says. “Your contributions have strengthened our culture and economy. I will always fight for YOU!”
Though there was little surprise in the timing of the new ad, many bewildered Indians noticed a dichotomy in Trump’s message.
Some questioned his promise to “fight for Indian Americans” noting his restrictive immigration policies and a growing tightening of H-1B visas that directly affect Indians.
The immigration system has also left hundreds of thousands of Indians in green card backlog, a chunk of potential voting bloc which is actually looking northwards at Canada for prospective migration.
Natasha Ray, an immigrant who runs a small business in Seattle area says, “I am not sure if the ad will resonate with the Indian Americans.
“While the community has been a bit indecisive on the candidate to vote up until now but I am not sure if Trump despite the Indian trip tamasha has been able to connect with Indian Americans.”
While many consider it an uphill task to turn the community towards a leader known for his anti-immigrant stance, one must concede that of late there has been a shift in Indian American attention towards Republican candidates.
RELATED: Trump, Melania have a rendezvous at Taj Mahal on India visit (February 24, 2020)
Traditionally leaning towards the Democratic side, a large section of expat population that supports Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, does see Trump as a strong candidate to fight terrorism and curb illegal immigration.
Several Indian American Modi supporters, who have looked askance at some Democratic politicians’ views on Kashmir and India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, are looking for an alternate that aligns more with their right-wing political views.
Perhaps in a strange way, the political situation in India is likely to affect the mood of the Indian American voters.
While Trump-Modi dosti (friendship) may appeal to Modi supporters, liberal Indian Americans continue to see a clear divergence in Trump’s remarks and his anti-immigrant policies.
Anuha Saran, a dependent spouse work visa (H4-EAD) holder, who lost her job due to delay in her work permit extension says, “Trump is using India narrative for his benefit.”
RELATED: India trade deal eludes Trump; $3 billion defense pact inked (February 25, 2020)
“Any educated person can see that. Even though, I am not eligible to vote, if I were I would never vote for him.”
Clearly Trump’s political advisors are acutely aware of how to exploit this potential. The next two of his campaign ads also feature none other than Modi himself.
A photo of the Indian Prime Minister along with Trump greets you in another ad with the message “America LOVES India.”
That Trump knows Modi’s charm may work in his favor is apparent in a third ad that features PM Modi in the spotlight and talks about tax breaks and educational policies.
It may mean a lot to Indian American voters that the current President is wooing a minority which until recently was left mostly ignored in not just national but local elections too.
But,the tough question for Trump remains to reconcile his policies and constant rhetoric on immigration with his new-found love for Modi’s India.
As Delhi burns amid Trump visit, US scholars, activists react sharply (February 25, 2020)
70% of Indian American voters prefer Hillary Clinton, 7% Donald Trump: Survey (October 10, 2016 )
Who would Indian Americans root for in US Presidential poll? (January 23, 2020)