India Abroad August 29, 2014 A13 US SPECIAL
with Karl Rove. So, we have to have the
resources to fight back.
I know when it comes to mid-term elections, people are rather apathetic. Has that
been the case with Indian Americans too
nationally in terms of contributions to your
You are right that at mid-term elections,
people aren’t paying as much attention.
We’ve had strong support across the entire
spectrum of donors — the majority of our
support though comes from California and
Northern California… and the majority
comes out of the traditional American
community the non-Indian-American
community folks who I represent, and
who’ve got to really know me and who are
really positive about the campaign.
But, given the fact that I am the only
Indian American in Congress at the
national level, the broader Indian-American community can take pride in
knowing that there is someone representing their community at the highest level.
But to hold on to this seat also takes
resources and so someone in North
Carolina and elsewhere can certainly support us.
Is it a case of Indian Americans taking it
for granted that you will be re-elected?
Some of them see that you had a very com-
fortable primary victory and perhaps they
don’t put the numbers together in terms of
the three Republicans who made up 51 per-
cent of the vote in the primary. So, is there
a danger that they are taking this for grant-
ed that you will easily win?
Absolutely. There is a danger that they
are taking this for granted and they are
not noticing that the three Republicans in
total came up with 51 percent to our 47
percent and that this is going to be a very
competitive race. And when you have outside groups like Karl Rove coming in, even
if you have a cash advantage over your
opponent, those outside groups can nullify
it. So, this is the time for the community
to really step up and they can support us
through our campaign at
Obviously, your opposition is going to
bring up some of the national issues and
will try to club you with President Obama,
whose poll numbers have plummeted. How
will you counter that?
What we’ve done in my two years in
office is serve the residents of Sacramento
County. So, at its core, ultimately those are
the people who I work for and we’ve
helped them recover over $1 million in
benefits — Social Security benefits,
veterans’ benefits, Medicare benefits.
We’ve helped countless people on visa
and other issues, and we’ve been ever
present in the community. So, the commu-
nity — if you look at our numbers — is
very happy with all I’ve done and are
pleased with me.
It’s when you have someone like Karl
Rove come and spend a million dollars on
negative advertising that you can move
public opinion sometimes.
We’ve talked about this several times
before and you’ve expressed your reservations about ‘Obamacare’, saying you were
not one who was wholly supportive of it
and that you felt it had to be tweaked, particularly vis-à-vis costs, etc. But, obviously,
Rove and gang are going to have a lot of
negative ads not only associating you with
President Obama, but also with
‘Obamacare’. How will you counter such
negative attacks? Is that why resources are
critical for you to explain your position on
issues such as this, where you have your
own independent perspective?
Absolutely. I need the resources to
explain my track record — how I’ve served
the community and just how we’ve represented our district. Also, as you know, I
always tell my story as the son of parents
who immigrated here from Gujarat and
the values I was raised with — the values
of hard work, of family, of a sense of community, of building the next generation,
which are strong American values as well.
They have the roots in those values that
my parents taught me.
And, I think what is testimony to the
American story is my district is less than 1
percent Indian American and I am elected
as an Indian American in a district that
understands the fruits of that story. So, we
need the resources to tell our story.
You’ve been a strong supporter of
Congressman Mike Honda, who’s been a
great supporter of Indian-American candidates. He is being challenged by Ro
Khanna, who has a lot of the Silicon Valley
high-tech guys, including leading Indian
Americans, on his side. Will that complicate your resource base in terms of these
guys contributing to your campaign?
Because Ro has been going around saying
Ami never endorsed me as an Indian
American, and that you are fully sympathetic to Mike Honda and obliged to Mike
No. I am supporting Mike Honda
because Mike has been a strong advocate
for the Indian-American community and a
strong advocate for the Asian-American
community. Mike has supported me and
Mike has supported Ro in the past. And,
so, there is a sense of obligation to support
I’ve never campaigned against Ro and
Ro’s race is a very different race. My message to the broader Indian-American
donor community would be that the goal
is to have representation at the table —
someone who is a strong advocate for the
community and who is a representative of
the community and a representative of the
broader American community and the US-India relationship.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone —
Democrat or Republican — say I haven’t
been a leader representing the broader
Indian-American Diaspora as well as leading on the US-India relationship. But
we’ve still got a lot of work to do and it
will take a second term to complete it.
Would you actively seek out President
Obama to come out there and stump for
you and give you a boost?
The person who really boosted me in
2012 was (former) President Bill Clinton.
We would love to see President Clinton or
(former) Secretary (of State, Hillary)
Clinton certainly come out. They’ve been
great supporters of mine in 2012 and so
again, we would love to do another round
with President Clinton.
You are being very diplomatic. You
wouldn’t actively seek out President
Obama to come out to your district and
give you a boost?
We’d love to get President Clinton to
come out. He was great in 2012.
‘This is the time for the community to step up and support their candidate to the best of their ability. And the most directly impactful thing they can do is to by financially supporting the campaign.’
COURTES Y: WW W. BERAFORCONGRESS. COM ‘I think what is testimony to the American story is my district is less than 1 percent Indian American and I am elected as an Indian American,’ Congressman Ami Bera said.
‘We need the resources to fight back’