Medha Raj joins as Biden’s Digital Chief, and Trump gets love from Indian American voters

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Medha Raj. Photo: LinkedIn

NEW YORK – In a presidential campaign year where effective online outreach and strategy is golden, and may be the deciding factor, given that rallies could be totally ruled out, the Joe Biden campaign has strengthened their digital operations by tapping an Indian American, Medha Raj, to run its operations.

“Excited to share that I’ve joined Joe Biden’s campaign as the Digital Chief of Staff,” said Raj in a LinkedIn Post. “One hundred and thirty days to the election and we’re not going to waste a minute!”

As the Biden campaign’s Digital Chief of Staff, Raj will “work across all facets of the digital department to streamline and coordinate how to maximize the impact of its digital outputs”, reported CNN.

Raj earlier worked for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who ran in the Democratic presidential primaries, and since then, after he dropped out, has endorsed Biden. She studied international politics at Georgetown University, and has an MBA from Stanford University.

Working alongside Raj will be Clarke Humphrey, as deputy digital director for grassroots fundraising, CNN reported. He previously worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.  Christian Tom was named as the new director of digital partnerships. Also joining the team is Jose Nunez, who had a stint with Sen. Kamala Harris, during her bid in the primaries.

Biden’s campaign initially struggled to gain footing against the Trump campaign’s competitive online presence, but the new staff indicate the campaign’s investment in its digital strategy. The hires come on the heels of its largest virtual fundraising event to date,.

The online fundraiser held with former President Barack Obama last week raised $7.6 million from 175,000 grassroots donors, including 65,000 first-time donors, the campaign said. An additional $3.4 million was raised from big donors, rounding the total to $11 million, the campaign’s biggest fundraiser to date. The virtual event also generated 120,000 viewers, 10,000 volunteer sign-ups and 1,500 merchandise orders.

The campaign has tripled its online donor base since February, and more than 1 million new supporters have joined the campaign since the beginning of June, according to a Biden campaign aide.

Recently, as part of this expanding digital outreach, Biden partnered with several online influencers to participate in interviews on Instagram Live, including actress and talk show host Keke Palmer, Jerry Harris of Netflix’s docuseries “Cheer,” YouTuber Bethany Mota and dancer Allison Holker.

TRUMP GETS LOVE FROM INDIAN AMERICANS

Even as Biden tries to get a solid lead over Trump in opinion polls, the President seems to be gaining traction with Indian American voters, going by an internal Republican party poll, notwithstanding his harsh immigration policies.

According to a survey conducted by Al Mason, co-chair of the Trump Victory Indian-American Finance Committee, more than 50 per cent of Indian Americans in the battle ground states of Michigan, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and Virginia are crossing over to support Donald Trump.

It’s a well-established fact that Indian diaspora voters in the US are traditionally Democratic, but going by the poll, it seems the recent close relations between Trump and PM Modi, and his visit to India, is paying off for Trump.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews told PTI, when asked of the survey: “President Trump is incredibly grateful for the widespread support he has received from the people of India and from millions of Indian-Americans across the United States,” adding, “He (Trump) recognizes the vital role Indian Americans play in bolstering our economy, enriching our culture, and strengthening our communities.”

Those words might seem strange and totally contrarian to pro-immigration advocates, and especially H-1B visa workers and their families, and other visa workers, who have been dismayed by numerous immigration restrictions and suspensions now in place, which makes their climb to permanent residency even tougher.

“The President continues to fight for the prosperity, health, and freedom of all Americans, including the flourishing and hardworking Indian-American community,” Matthews said, responding to a question by PTI related to the increasing popularity of Trump among the community.

According to Mason, who conducted the poll, Trump’s recent visit to India with family, including First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, might have curried favor with the Indian diaspora voters.

CHEF KHANNA IN THE LIMELIGHT

New York City-based Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna has been in the limelight for his prompt and massive humanitarian work for poor migrant workers and those affected by the coronavirus pandemic in India. He has been credited with distributing more than 17 million meals in 135 cities in India.

Khanna also won praise recently on social media, for an interview of his featured on BBC, where he seemed to correct an overtly-loaded question from the anchor, which led to comments of stereotyping India.

“My sense of hunger came from New York”, the Amritsar, Punjab-born Khanna retorted, after the BBC anchor seemed to suggest that Khanna having been born and brought up in India, must have been impoverished and had known hunger, before he rose to celebrity status in his adopted land, America.

“You’ve cooked for the Obamas, you’ve been on the TV show with Gordon Ramsay. But it wasn’t always that way, was it? You’re not from a rich family. So, I dare say, you understand how precarious it can be in India,” asked the BBC anchor, in the interview.

“No,” responded Khanna, “I understand, but my sense of hunger didn’t come from India so much because I was born and raised in Amritsar. We have a huge community kitchen where everyone gets fed. The entire city can feed there. But my sense of hunger came from New York when I was struggling here from the very bottom.”

Khanna then talked about his struggling days in New York, when he used to sleep in Grand Central, and had little money to kickstart a career in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

GRAND PHILANTHROPIC GESTURE

Indiana-based philanthropist and entrepreneur Gurinder Singh Khalsa announced he would donate face masks and protective shields worth $1 million to peaceful demonstrators across the United States, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, in Minneapolis.

Khalsa is a recipient of the prestigious Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award, and the founder of SikhsPAC, a nonpartisan political action committee.

Khalsa recently started Cleanxa, a personal protection equipment manufacturer and distributor, which would be used to distribute reusable, rewash able, medical grade filtered face masks and protective shields to protestors either individually or in bulk through non-profit bodies, a PTI report said.

“Going forward if we want to replace hate and violence with love and compassion, we need to portray the true picture of American history. This is the most important part of American history, which is not being taught in schools. For the better future of America, we need to learn our lessons from history, however bitter it might be,” he said.

Observing that he was inspired by two movies that he recently watched “Just Mercy” and “13th” and the series “Hell on Wheels”, Khalsa said that people of America still have a long way to go to achieve the goals of equality and equity set up by its founding fathers.

“SikhsPAC has always and will always stand with the Black community. SikhsPAC is making these donations as a way to advocate for police reform and justice for Black individuals in the United States. Along with this, SikhsPAC would like these donations to reflect their support for making Juneteenth a national holiday,” Khalsa said.

“In this country, the atrocities against Black individuals are not covered enough within the history lessons taught to our children in schools,” he added. “Putting a blanket over the history of systematic racism in our country is one of the most harmful things we can do the new generations moving forward will be much more passionate, caring, and understanding towards their Black community members if they are taught the real, tough history.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)

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