Kamala Harris changes complexion of US presidential race

Kamala Harris addressing Indian American Democrats at a virtual event on August 15, 2020.
Kamala Harris addressing Indian American Democrats at a virtual event on August 15, 2020.

How far will her historic choice influence crucial Indian American voters is moot.

Historic selection of Indian African American senator Kamala Harris as Democrat Joe Biden’s running mate has literally changed the complexion of the US presidential race as both parties set out to formally anoint their nominees virtually.

Democrats go first with the launch of a scaled down four day virtual Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Monday with Biden accepting the nomination near his home in Delaware on the final night Thursday.

Harris, who will be nominated for vice president on Wednesday night, has given a big boost to Biden’s lack luster campaign with 53% voters approving her selection, according to a Politco/Morning Consult flash poll.

She has also proved a valuable fundraising asset bringing in a massive haul of $48 million within 48 hours of her selection.

Democrats will also finalize the party’s platform at the convention. How far Harris will influence the final shape of the platform updated at the end of July with major inputs from Biden and Bernie Sanders campaigns, is yet to be seen.

African American advocacy groups have cheered Biden’s pick, which according to the Washington Post “they saw as recognition that Black voters are a pillar of the Democratic Party”.

RELATED: Indian Americans welcome Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s VP pick (August 12, 2020)

“But the choice was greeted more skeptically by the party’s left flank, including many younger Black activists who have been critical of Harris’s record as a mainstream politician and former prosecutor,” it noted.

Indian-American groups have also welcomed Harris’ selection with Neil Makhija, executive director of Impact, describing it as “historic and inspiring, not only for Black Americans, but for millions of Asian American voters.”

While, Impact is raising $10 million to help the Democrats recapture the White House, Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, believes Indian American voters “can be an absolute difference maker” in eight battleground states.

Indian Americans have largely voted for Democrats since the 2000 election of Bill Clinton, but quite a few have moved towards incumbent Republican President Donald Trump thanks to his bon homie with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

So much so that Al Mason, co-chair of the Trump Victory India American Finance Committee expects 50 percent of traditional Democratic voters among 1.3 million Indian American voters “to come into the president’s column.”

But would Harris’ selection make pro Trumper Indian Americans switch sides and troop back to the Democratic column to side with a half ‘Desi’ girl whom some don’t consider Indian enough?

Trump, who will be officially nominated for President on Aug. 24, the first day of Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, does not think so.

Railing against the Biden-Harris ticket at a meeting with New York City Police Benevolent Association on Friday, Trump accused the rival duo of spearheading “a left-wing war on cops” with “probably Kamala a step worse.”

“She is of Indian heritage. I have more Indians than she has,” claimed Trump.

His reelection campaign has also launched four new coalitions — ‘Indian Voices for Trump,’ ‘Hindu Voices for Trump,’ ‘Sikhs for Trump’ and ‘Muslim Voices for Trump’ — to boost his appeal among South Asian communities.

The coalitions will engage community members nationwide to fight against “Biden and Harris’ socialist agenda and ensure prosperity and security for four more years,” the campaign stated Friday.

“Indian Americans are thriving under President Trump’s commitment to honor the comprehensive global strategic partnership with India,” it said.

“The choice for president is clear for Indian-American voters: four more years of a Trump Presidency will further build on our US-India partnership and secure a prosperous future for all Indian American families,” it added.

While, more than 300 delegates will gather in Charlotte for the Republican convention, Trump will likely accept his nomination from the White House.

“It’s a place that makes me feel good. It makes the country feel good,” he told the New York Post in an interview.

The line up of speakers at the convention with the overall theme of  “Honoring the Great American Story” will include former Indian American ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Tag lines for the four days will be “Land of Promise,” “Land of Opportunity,” “Land of Heroes,” and “Land of Greatness”.

Meanwhile, according to 538, a leading polling website Biden is a modest favorite to win the Nov. 3 election, but Trump has a “meaningful chance” to stage a comeback.

“Polls show Biden leading, but with plenty of time left, Trump still has a roughly 1-in-4 chance of pulling off a comeback,” it said amid a flurry of national polls ahead of the conventions.


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