Iowa’s Indian Americans Feel Ignored By Nikki Haley
NEW YORK, NY (IANS) – At the Iowa caucuses, Indian American voters in the state have said that they “feel abandoned” by 2024 Republican presidential aspirant and “proud daughter of Indian immigrants”, Nikki Haley.
According to a New York Times report, while the lone woman in the presidential race has a number of prominent Indian American donors, she has not aggressively courted voters from the community in the Hawkeye State and rarely plays up her identity to pull in new votes.
The two-time South Carolina Governor and former UN ambassador officially launched her presidential bid on February 15, calling herself a “proud daughter of Indian immigrants” who left Punjab in search of a better life.
Being among a handful of Indian American candidates to ever run for president and the second woman of color to ever seek the GOP’s nomination for the White House, has inherently generated interest in the Indian and South Asian-American communities
Speaking to the NYT, leaders of prominent Indian American groups said they started reaching out to the Haley campaign at a time when she was still polling in the single digits, with hopes of hosting her at their temples, town hall-style events, or house parties.
But so far nothing has worked, the leaders said, calling the lack of outreach as frustrating and alienating for some of their membership.
“It really raises the question: Who are you willing to engage in the dialogue? Do you want the support and do you support the engagement of Indian Americans across the board?” asked Prakash Kopparapu, chairman of the Indo-American PAC-IA.
Himanshu Pathak, who has served as president of the Indo-American Association of Iowa, surmised that Haley perhaps saw the electorate as too small to make a difference.
That would be a mistake, he said, adding: “We are low in numbers — but not that low. And we are increasing day by day”.
On the contrary, Haley’s fellow Indian American presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has made several appearances at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Iowa.
In addition, he is set to participate in an Indo-American PAC-IA event this week.
The 51-year-old Haley has taken the lead over other GOP rivals but still trails behind former president Donald Trump in Iowa, according to a recent poll of 500 likely Republican caucus goers.
Indian Americans are considered to be key players in the battleground states.
The community has historically been Democrat-leaning — 72 percent of registered Indian American voters backed President Joe Biden in 2020, 77 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 84 percent for Barack Obama in 2012.