Maverick US presidential candidate’s unconventional style attracts Chinese American voters
South China Morning Post
Donald Trump may have achieved something other US presidential candidates could only dream of: motivating Chinese immigrants – traditionally politically indifferent – to go to the polls next month.
While Chinese Americans, like other ethnic groups in the United States, remain largely divided over the Republican candidate and many of his controversial policy proposals, they all agree that Trump has fuelled an unprecedented level of political activism among Chinese immigrants in the run-up to this year’s presidential election.
I’ve seen many Chinese who’ve become enthusiastic about politics and are siding with Republicans simply because they love Trump
While the maverick candidate has lost many traditional Republican supporters, his unconventional style has galvanised fresh support from others who are usually not interested in politics, including many Chinese Americans, according to Cliff Li, an adviser to the Trump campaign.
“This campaign is very unorthodox, by all means,” said Li, who sits on Trump‘s Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee, which was set up last month.
Li, a businessman in the information technology sector who moved to the US from mainland China in 1990, is also executive director of the National Committee of Asian American Republicans. Both committees are aimed at enhancing Republicans’ outreach to Asian voters, who despite comprising a relatively small part of the electorate are believed by some analysts to be a source of key swing votes that could influence the result.
“He is not a traditional politician or a typical Republican,” Li said. “He’s very energetic, unconventional, and probably would not be an ideal presidential candidate in a normal year. But the fact that he is an interesting outsider has made him all the more attractive this year.”
Trump has attracted many fervent supporters among a new generation of Chinese immigrants who are vocal and passionate about their conservative political views.
While Trump’s opponents express horror at his provocative remarks on issues ranging from trade to America’s security alliances – and his sexist and reckless demeanour – his supporters find such attributes attractive. Widespread dissatisfaction with US President Barack Obama’s policies on the economy, national security, immigration and college enrolment appear to be boosting Trump’s popularity among Chinese immigrants.
“I’ve seen many Chinese who’ve become enthusiastic about politics and are siding with Republicans simply because they love Trump,” Li said.
Zhang Wei, a leader of Chinese-Americans for Trump in Virginia, a grass-roots organisation, is one of them.
“Like most Chinese immigrants, I was not interested in politics before, said Zhang, 41, who arrived in the US in 2000. “But I am so fascinated about Trump and began to campaign for him as a volunteer since the primaries last year.
“Trump is the only one who dares to defy political correctness to point out the real problems facing this country while many others don’t have the guts to do so. I support Republicans because I like Trump’s personal style and agree with their more conservative economic and public policies.”
Li said a lot of Chinese Americans had switched parties to support Trump, which had puzzled many political scientists.
“Quite a lot of his supporters are from outside Republican Party,” he said.
According to a Pew Research Centre report, half of Asian Americans are Democrats or lean Democratic, while only 28 per cent identify with or lean toward the Republicans.
Li said support for Republicans had declined sharply from over 50 per cent in 1992 to only about 25 per cent during the last election in 2012.
“We are seeing a new trend that more Chinese Americans switch sides and begin to support Trump in this election, but it is difficult to tell exactly the scale of such changes due to the lack of polling statistics on Asian Americans,” he said.
Li, a Republican since 2004, said he supported Trump out of party loyalty but would not describe himself as a Trump fan.
“I actually disagree with him on a few minor issues, such as his style and the way he speaks,” Li said. “He is more of a businessman and he always goes off the script during speeches and it causes a lot of confusion. I wish he could be more careful, but Trump is Trump and that’s his style. We have to live with it.”
Grace Su, an organiser for Chinese-Americans for Trump in New York, said engaging in the election campaign was not just about supporting her favourite candidate, but also about giving Chinese Americans a voice.
Su, a former business executive who moved to the US in 2008, said she had noticed an increase in political participation by Chinese Americans since the sentencing of Chinese American police officer Peter Liang for manslaughter in April over the shooting death of an unarmed black man in New York in 2014.
Liu was the first New York City police officer convicted for an on-duty shooting in more than a decade, something many Chinese Americans blamed on racial discrimination. Thousands took to the streets in protest.
“We never paid attention to politics,” she said. “But we never realised that we’ve faced systematic discrimination on many issues because we don’t speak out.”
Trump’s promise to crack down on crimes targeting ethnic minority groups has won him a lot of support from Chinese Americans.
“We are seeing rising crimes and cultural violence targeting Chinese Americans,” Li said. “We will have a protest in [Washington] DC on October 12 along with other minority communities such as Africans.”
Chinese Americans have also been angered by Democrat affirmative action policies, including a discriminatory quota system to limit Asian Americans’ access to universities while trying to advance admissions from other ethnic groups.
Su said Chinese American students suffered most under such a system. Even though they generally performed better in exams than their African American counterparts, they might end up in less preferred universities.
“We did not realise that it is not about how hard we work … we are still outsiders if we don’t understand the politics and culture of the US, no matter how many years we have stayed here,” she said.
Li said the policy was “totally unfair and that’s one of the key reasons why so many Chinese Americans switch to support Republicans this year”.
The controversial policy introduced by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity also appears to have sparked a backlash among many Chinese immigrants. “We are not against LGBT, but we find it an outrageous and misguided policy which caused a lot of concerns among Chinese families,” Li said.
While Asian Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants to the US, most Chinese Americans do not have a strong sense of civic responsibility despite recent positive changes.
“Sadly we are not a political force yet because statistics show that Chinese American voter turnout is behind almost all the other Asian American groups and the fact that most Chinese Americans don’t live in those swing states,” Li said. “We will be able to make a difference, but not necessarily in this election. There is no doubt Chinese American will have a rising impact on American politics.”
Political pundits said many Chinese Americans who had not voted in previous elections had been more vocal ahead of this election, with divisions evident in the Chinese American community between older, more liberal immigrants and newer, more conservative arrivals.
“The fact that Chinese Americans are almost evenly divided between the two candidates is a testimony of their strong integration in the American society,” said Dr Gal Luft, the co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, based in Potomac, Maryland. “I believe that despite the polls the elections will show stronger support for Trump among Asian Americans. The reason is that Trump epitomises personal success to which ambitious and hard-working people can relate.”
Defiant Trump vows to stay in race after dozens of top Republicans demand he drop out after lewd remarks about women
Even Trump’s wife and running mate criticised his words, saying they were insulting and indefensible
With his campaign in crisis, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to stay in the race despite calls from more than two dozen prominent Republicans for him to drop out following the release of a recording of him making lewd comments about women.
Both Trump’s wife and his running mate criticised his words, saying they were insulting and indefensible.
“The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly – I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN!” Trump wrote on Saturday afternoon on the social media website Twitter.
The video was the latest calamity for Trump, who had hoped to revive his flagging campaign in the face of a recent drop in polls with less than a month until Election Day.
Trump is due to appear alongside Democrat Hillary Clinton Monday morning Hong Kong time in their second debate in the run-up to the general election. Clinton is not expected to address Trump’s video before then.
The 2005 video of Trump talking on an open microphone showed the then-reality TV star speaking about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman. The video was taped only months after Trump married his third wife, Melania.
In a statement, Melania Trump called her husband’s words “unacceptable and offensive to me.”
“This does not represent the man that I know,” she said. “He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”
The backlash over the video was swift and widespread.
More than 60 prominent Republican current and former officeholders issued statements condemning Trump’s remarks about women, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and John McCain, the party’s standard bearer in 2008. More than 20 called for Trump to end his presidential bid.
In an unusual move, his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence issued a critical statement of Trump’s words, saying on Twitter that he “cannot defend them.”
“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump,” said Pence, who is governor of Indiana.
Pence indicated he would continue to support Trump, despite calls from several Republicans for Trump to step aside and let Pence be the nominee.
There is no precedent for a major party to replace its nominee this late in the campaign and it was unclear if there was an avenue to force him out. Voting has begun in several states, including swing states Virginia and North Carolina.
A recorded apology by Trump early on Saturday did not stymie an avalanche of calls from members of his party to quit.
Trump huddled on Saturday in Trump Tower with senior advisers, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Despite previous scheduling, Republican Chairman Reince Priebus will no longer appear Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway will not be on Fox News Sunday, with both being replaced by Giuliani. No reason was given for the bump of Conway. A CBS news release said the RNC asked to replace Priebus because Trump’s operation wanted “a campaign person” to appear on the program.
He left the building briefly to greet a small crowd of supporters, saying “100 per cent” he would remain in the race. Before returning to a bank of elevators, he told reporters, “Tremendous support.”
Trump quickly moved to do damage control in Saturday’s video in which he declared himself a changed man and attempted to shift the focus to his opponent Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. On Twitter, Trump posted critical statements from Juanita Broaddrick, a woman who has accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her.
“Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise,” Trump said in his video statement, posted on his Facebook page.
Trump has struggled to win over women voters, and the video was expected to further feed Democratic criticism about his past behaviour toward women. Trump’s support has suffered among suburban women and white, college-educated women, groups that Republicans have traditionally won.
In the recording that triggered the firestorm, Trump said of one woman, “I did try and f*** her. She was married.” He went on to discuss his attraction to others.
“I just start kissing them,” he said. “And when you’re a star they let you do it.”
“Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything,” Trump said.
On Saturday afternoon, CNN published a separate report detailing remarks Trump made over the course of several years while appearing on Howard Stern’s radio program.
The remarks included discussing the size of his daughter’s breasts and that he once had sex with three women at the same time. Trump was asked if he would have sex with a black woman and responded, “It depends on what your definition of black is.”
The remarks were the last straw for some Republicans who have stuck with him through a series of controversial remarks, including calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals,” calling for a ban on Muslim immigrants, attacking a judge of Mexican descent, attacking the Gold Star family of a Muslim soldier killed at war and saying Senator John McCain was not a war hero because he had been a prisoner of war.
House Speaker Paul Ryan disinvited Trump to a scheduled appearance on Saturday in Wisconsin. Pence declined to speak in his place.
The list of Republicans announcing they would not vote for Trump or calling on him to step aside grew on Saturday: Senators Kelly Ayotte, Lisa Murkowsi, Dan Sullivan, Mark Kirk, Jeff Flake, John Thune, Mike Crapo, Shelley Moore Capito and Mike Lee; House members Jason Chaffetz, Mia Love, Joe Heck, Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby and Barbara Comstock; and Governors John Kasich, Dennis Daugaard and Gary Herbert.
Additionally, former presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Carly Fiorina and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Trump to quit.
“Donald Trump’s behaviour this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy,” McCain said in a statement.
While Democrats largely remained silent, opting to let Republicans attack one of their own, Vice President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter, “The words are demeaning. Such behaviour is an abuse of power. It’s not lewd. It’s sexual assault.”
Some prominent Republicans indicated they would stick with Trump. Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, said they would continue to support him.
“I think 10 years ago he was a different man,” said Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia. “I am very glad that he quickly apologised.”
After Disgusting Remarks About Women From Donald Trump Are Revealed, WikiLeaks Makes Public Hillary Clinton Hacked Emails That Reveal Her Inner Thoughts, Views on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, Middle Class, Poverty
Tags: America’s security alliances, Carly Fiorina, Chinese American voters, Chinese American voters want America's future to be prosperous, Cliff Li, Dan Sullivan, Donald Trump, honesty, human rights, immigration, Jeff Flake, jobs, John McCain, John Thune, Kelly Ayotte, Lisa Murkowsi, Mark Kirk, Mike Crapo, Mitt Romney, National Committee of Asian American Republicans, national security, Paul Ryan, prosperity, Recent Chinese Immigrants To America, Shelley Moore Capito, the economy, trade, Trump has fuelled an unprecedented level of political activism among Chinese immigrants, Trump's words about women were insulting and indefensible