HomeAsian AmericansFirst AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum for the history books

First AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum for the history books

Views from the Edge

Entrepreneur advocate Andrew Yang, Hawaii’s Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and tech billionaire Tom Steyer, three of the 19 Democrats vying for the Democratic nomination for POTUS, were warmly greeted by the Asian American audience at the AAPI Presidential Forum held Sunday in Costa Mesa, CA.



They flew to California after a full day of campaigning in New Hampshire Friday and Saturday in order to win over the state’s movers and shakers and party activists.


Marianne Williamson who earlier had committed to attend canceled because of a scheduling conflict.


The candidates were questioned by a panel consisting of journalists MSNBC’s Richard Liu and Ester Lee and author Viet Nguyen.


Gabbard, whose military service included two tours in the Middle East and is presently a member of the Hawaii National Guard, emphasized her foreign policy credentials and military service. She wants to stop the US role as the world’s policeman and get the US out of further foreign commitments.

Steyer, who announced that he qualified for the Democrats fourth debate in October, said “It isn’t like I just came to [politics],” As founder of political advocacy group NexGen America, he said, “I’ve been doing this for 10 years.”

Steyer, through a series of nationwide commercials, has been advocating for impeaching Donald Trump .



Steyer told the L.A. Times his candidacy is focused on fighting climate change and lessening the “corporate stranglehold” on government.

Yang, who opened the forum, revealed some intimate details of growing up as the only Asian kid in school in upstate New York. “You either take it, or you fight,” he said. “I chose to fight. Being a skinny Asian kid, a lost a lot of those fights.”


As usual, he was questioned about his Freedom Dividend, or a Universal Basic Income. In the forum format, he was better able to explain how it work, how he would finance it and the benefits that would come out giving every adult citizen $1000 a month.


He favors a public option for health care, climate change is “worse than you think” and urged investment in renewable energy and even relocating people away from rising seas.

The forum was put on by the AAPI Victory Fund, a super PAC that focuses on mobilizing voters in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.


Organizers from the Asian Americans Rising PAC and the AAPI Victory Fund called the forum significant in light of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders holding 28 seats in Congress and doubling the number of AAPI voters between 2016 and 2018.

“This is a first-in-a-lifetime event,” said Katie Kalvoda, president of the Asian Americans Rising PAC.

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