APIA Presidential Election Forum offers last-minute guidance for voters


As voters head toward the polls on Tuesday, November 8th, to vote for the next president of the United States, who will they favor?

Asian Pacific Islander Vote (APIAVote), together with Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA) hosted a historic event this year coinciding with the AAJA Annual Convention.

On Friday August 12th at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas candidates from four major political parties were at the table with Asian Pacific Island American (APIA) voters. It was the first time that presidential candidates honored APIAs with their presence in interviews and speeches. It was the first time a hall filled with 3000 people, and more watched the event streamed live.

Present were Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party, former President Bill Clinton for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes surrogate for Donald Trump, Republican Party.

The “2016 Presidential Election Forum (Live)” is viewable at YouTube and from the AAJA election forum review page (http://www.aaja.org/election-forum-review/).

The Townhall is almost 2-1/2 hours long. It provides a clear view of who these candidates are, and how well they will connect with APIA issues.

APIA leaders, whether Congresswoman and CAPAC leader Judy Chu, or Gloria Caoile, AAPI National Leadership Council, or APIAVote Board Member Tana Lepule, all agree that APIA voters will make the most important margin of difference in local, state, and national elections.

This is why this late-stage in the game, the video is worth watching at least once. We deserve to be well-informed about our choices on who is worth voting for and why.

The first two candidates from the independent parties were interviewed by Richard Lui, media personality, humanitarian journalist, and anchor at NBC.

Green Party Jill Stein has a reputation for being able to hold her own regardless of mainstream media attempts to fluster her. Her interview with Richard Lui was no exception.

Over and over, she repeated the importance of being lobbyist-free in order to truly represent the interests of the people, the working class. She offered her trademark Green New Deal, along with debt-forgiveness for college students. When Richard Lui questioned the ability for it to pay for itself, she mentioned climate change and the need to declare a climate emergency, something that affects low-lying areas all around the world especially around the Asian-Pacific rim. When Lui mocked the ability for the Green New Deal and loan forgiveness to pay for itself, she responded with the need to create authentic work opportunities just like during the Great Depressions. Lui also questioned her never having held public office, to which she compared herself with Dwight Eisenhower, and emphasized the importance of breaking the chains that keep corrupt politicians in office for decades.

Nevertheless the speech by Gloria Caoile, one of the founders of APIAVote and working for Hillary for America, was inspiring for the audience. In a commanding voice, she emphasized the historic progress APIA communities have made under President Clinton’s leadership (and continued under President Obama) notably appointing “over 300 Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in his Administration.” She recalled in a moving statement:

As one of the founders of APIA Vote, I, along with others in this room—I envisioned that one day presidential candidates would be at the table with AAPI voters. And TODAY is THAT DAY!

According to Caoile, a President Hillary Clinton will continue the White House Initiative on AAPI, an Executive Order begun under her husband’s administration providing for solicitation from the Asian communities on their specific concerns.

Former-president Bill Clinton delivered an eloquent speech emphasizing the importance of providing more jobs for AAPIs in the form of small business support, educational opportunities, comprehensive immigration reform, and growing a new manufacturing sector, if necessary, including more investment in companies from overseas.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes made a speech describing the importance of being self-made; he included an anecdote about how affirmative action and equal opportunity can become a gate-keeping tool against AAPIs especially in agencies or universities where they are “over-represented.” He supports making the tax climate more friendly for small businesses.

A comparison of the quad-partisan presidential townhall and candidate views is summarized in a table below by AGN. It doesn’t include all the issues—the 2016 National Asian American Survey published by APIA Vote would be helpful for an in-depth view on the APIA voters.

Nevertheless, AGN’s table pretty much summarizes the hot-button issues:


Table APIA-Voter-issues vs Presidential-candidate

In the final analysis, going with what your heart, not just your head matters, according to Dr. Cornel West:

The important thing is we need to be true to ourselves…it’s a moral issue, and it’s a spiritual issue. It ain’t just about elections, it’s about what kind of human beings we want to be.


  1. AAJA, http://www.aaja.org/election-forum-review/
  2. APIA Vote, http://www.apiavote.org/research/2016-national-asian-american-survey
  3. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5A03-am9P8

Image from AAJA website (http://www.aaja.org/election-forum-review/)