Jun 27, 2020
Joe Biden & Trump Surrogates Hold Town Hall for APIA: Transcript
Joe Biden & surrogates for President Donald Trump took part in a virtual town hall on Asian American & Pacific Islander issues on June 27. Read the full transcript of the town hall here.
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Vicky Nguyen: (08:06)
Hi, everyone. I’m investigative and consumer correspondent Vicki Wynn for NBC News. I am pleased to be with you this afternoon for this virtual event. That takes a look at the presidential campaign through the lens of our communities.
Amna Nawaz: (08:21)
Hi everyone, I’m Amna Nawaz, senior national correspondent and primary substitute anchor for the PBS News Hour. And behalf of Vicky of myself, we are so happy to welcome you to the presidential town hall 2020 hosted by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote or APIA Vote.
Vicky Nguyen: (08:37)
Vicky. Yes, Amna. Let me go ahead and take it from here. The presidential town hall is the most important forum in which Asian-Americans, native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders will be able to hear directly from the candidates and their surrogates. They will in turn hear what matters from our perspective. The campaigns will address key topics related to healthcare, discrimination and racism in America, immigration, as well as safeguarding the economy during this pandemic in two separated, moderated, discussions.
Vicky Nguyen: (09:08)
2020, as you all know, has been a historically challenging year, often tragic, all around the world. In our country and especially for Asian Americans, native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. COVID-19 became a global pandemic and then we witnessed the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. Many Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are committed to becoming better allies at a time when this is needed more than ever.
Amna Nawaz: (09:39)
That’s right, Vicky. Today’s important, unprecedented conversation is the result of many community organizations and leaders making the case that our collective voices need to be heard. The foundation has been set, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are all becoming more engaged, both as voters and as elected officials. And we hope today’s program encourages you to find your voice and use that voice in your local communities. So in a moment of incredible challenges in America and throughout the world, we have to ask ourselves now, what will we as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders due in 2020?
Amna Nawaz: (10:15)
So first I want to introduce our speakers. We’re going to hear first from Christine Chen, she’s executive director of our host organization, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, or APIA Vote. And then from Steven Gong, who’s executive director of the Center for Asian American Media. They’ve also both served as the co-producers of today’s program. So we are grateful to them both.
Amna Nawaz: (10:36)
We’re then honored to have joining us from the AARP Daphne Kwok, chief vice president and multicultural leadership for the Asian American audience and Khelan Bhatia, voter engagement director. But first we’re going to hear from Christine Chen.
Christine Chen: (11:45)
( silence) [inaudible 00:11:46] though, is excited to welcome all of you for the next two hours as we provide a platform for presidential candidates and campaigns to address and engage the concerns of the Asian American, native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Since 2008, API Vote has hosted the presidential town hall for the last every four years. This historic event is only made possible with the participation and organizing efforts of over 250 national and local partners that exemplify the beauty of the diversity of our community. Whether it is by geography, age, gender, and ethnicity, foreign born or American born. Today’s event is only made possible with the support of our sponsors, ARP, Comcast, and Nielsen. And we’ll hear from ARP shortly. We also like to thank the Center for Asian American Media, for their pivotal role as co-producer of this presidential town hall.
Christine Chen: (12:46)
So to kick off, let’s generate some viewer participation. Now, everyone, please grab your smart phones and texts APIA Vote to 72727 the code is now being displayed on your screen. This short survey will allow us to get a general idea of who was tuning in. Again, the code is APIA Vote to the number 72727. We’ll be sure to share some of the survey results with you later in the program.
Christine Chen: (13:17)
Now, it’s a sign of our times that Vice President Joe Biden and the Trump campaigns will appear at their first major event together at APIA Votes presidential town hall today. It’s hard to ignore the country’s growing racial group of voters, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are on the rise. We’re gaining in popularity, strength, institutional capacity, political sophistication, and expanded coalition and exciting new leaders led by members of the U.S. Congress and first time candidates across the country. And we cannot forget those running in local elections. They are transforming the political debate and landscape. We’re expanding in the popular and new media, using the internet to challenge political ideas, mobilizing activists, and helping to recruit and support candidates.
Christine Chen: (14:11)
So with that, confronting crisis isn’t new to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The pandemic calamity, deepening recession, and racial outrage in the country are stirring energy, in our communities that’s diverse and growing. Outrage and mobilization of an active APIA base continue to build, creating one of the greatest voter participation engines than ever before. Asian American Pacific Islanders are using social media to organize and fight back against racially motivate attacks during the pandemic.
Christine Chen: (14:44)
We’re a group with a history of being scapegoated from Japanese Americans detained during World War Two, a Chinese American man by auto workers, angry about Japanese competition in the 1980s. And to the tax against South Asian Americans after the tragedies of 9/11. There’s an urgency to drown out both bigotry and apathy. By coming together for today’s event, this is only a testament that this community is using their relationships to activate their families, friends, neighbors, and communities to register and get out the vote. Thank you for your participation. So let’s get on with the program.
Stephen Gong: (15:33)
Hello, we at the Center for Asian American Media are honored to partner with APIA Vote to present this historic presidential town. These are extraordinary times with the COVID-19 pandemic, rising unemployment, the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, and now a nationwide movement for racial justice and reform. All of these things make it more critical than ever for the Asian American community to participate in the democratic process.
Stephen Gong: (16:06)
CAAM was founded 40 years ago in a similar time of tremendous cultural and political turmoil. And we’re drawing on decades of experience in public media and our mission to bring Asian American stories to the broadest audience possible. So we’re proud to be here with APIA Vote, both to bring the diverse Asian American community together for these important conversations. And also to ensure that our voices and perspectives are heard and discussions that will shape the future. Enjoy the town hall.
Daphne Kwok: (16:43)
Welcome. I’m Daphne Kwok with AARP. Empowerment. That is why we’re all here today. And that’s why AARP so honored to be supporting APIA Votes presidential town hall as AARP works to empower people to live as they age. There are over 4.3 million AAPIs over the age of 50 now. And in 40 years, that number will go over 13 million.
Daphne Kwok: (17:08)
We are a critical block of voters. And as we all know, family is a core value for our community. That means we all need to advocate for issues to improve the lives of all of our elders, be they LGBTQ or not. This is June, which is pride month. In November, our future is on the ballot and we need to make sure language access, healthcare access, and affordability, culturally competent care, and maintaining the dignity of all of our elders is on the ballot. Today, I want to invite you to pledge with me that every single one of us will do our civic duty to not only vote for a brighter, but to make sure our families vote as well. Thank you so much.
Khelan Bhatia: (17:56)
Hi, I’m Khelan Bhatia, AARP’s director of voter engagement. Thank you so much for the opportunity to sponsor your presidential forum and the opportunity to come speak to you today. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing people over the age of 50, the most powerful voting block in every election cycle. And during this time of COVID, the way we live our lives has changed from the way we work to the way we vote.
Khelan Bhatia: (18:22)
AARP is committed to making sure you know how you can vote safely this fall and you know which issues are on the line, including social security, Medicare prescription drug prices, longterm care, and the economy. For more information, please go to aarp.org/election2020, and please remember to vote. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (18:44)
During the coronavirus pandemic Asian Americans rose to answer the call as frontliners, caregivers, cure-seekers, truth-tellers, providers, and modern day heroes. We can’t say enough about how grateful and proud we are of you and the work you do.
Amna Nawaz: (19:12)
And thank you to Christine, Stephen, Daphne and Khelan. Now, as you’ve heard many people mention, in just the past six months, all of us have struggled to make sense of a pandemic that has changed the way we live. And that’s taken the lives of more than 120,000 people here in the U.S., nearly 450, 000 around the world. We’ve also had to bear witness to the death of so many others stemming from police brutality. So please join me now in a moment of silence to honor those loved ones lost to both the global health crisis and to our crisis of violence. Next, we’d like to share a video. One that highlights, the work of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, or CAPAC, which was established back in 1994. Following the video, we are delighted to have with U.S. Representative Judy Chu. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2009, and now represents the 27th congressional district in California. As the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress, Representative Chu has been the CAPAC chair since February 2011. She also serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the House Small Business Committee, and is chair of the Cub-Committee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations. But first, to the video.
Speaker 2: (20:59)
In 1994, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus was formed.
Speaker 3: (21:04)
Now it is my hope that this caucus will serve as a foundation for future advances for our community.
Speaker 2: (21:12)
Laying a groundwork for growing AAPI leadership.
Speaker 3: (21:16)
To finally make the full story of the Asian Pacific American communities known in Washington D.C. as well as throughout the country.
Speaker 2: (21:25)
We came together to have a greater voice in Washington and ultimately throughout the country. We did this with the strong belief that everybody in America benefits when those making the decisions look like America.
Judy Chu : (21:39)
Today, for the first time in 130 years, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill that expresses regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. One of the most discriminatory acts in American history.
Speaker 2: (21:53)
With each passing year, our voices grow stronger on the issues we all care about.
Represenative Mark Takano: (21:58)
If we lose the belief that our education system can give every child a shot I think our country’s democracy is in grave danger, and that’s what I came here to fight for.
Representative Tammy Duckworth: (22:08)
If we lose sight of our nation’s founding principles, we will lose out on the innovations we’ve seen from immigrants and immigrant families.
Speaker 4: (22:16)
This bill will strike-
Speaker 2: (22:16)
They are joined by the voices of rising new leaders.
Representative Ted Lieu: (22:21)
There are a lot of people who are hurting in America. And they see a system that is not working for them.
Representative Pramila Jayapal: (22:27)
How do we structure trade deals that are actually beneficial to workers here and around the world and beneficial to our environment?
Representative Andy Kim: (22:34)
I rise today in support of taking action to lower healthcare and prescription drug costs. I heard from my neighbors that they’re tired of the politics. They can’t afford the partisanship. And they need Congress to be the adults in the room and to act now.
Speaker 2: (22:49)
Together, we work to protect and advance the rights of all Americans and fight for the policies and needs of the AAPI community.
Amna Nawaz: (23:10)
And joining us now is Congresswoman Judy Chu. Congresswoman, over to you.
Judy Chu : (23:15)
Hello, everybody. First, let me say thank you to Christine Chen and APIA Vote for hosting today’s history making presidential town hall. As chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, or CAPAC, I am so gratified to see thousands of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders joining us virtually for this milestone event, ready to engage in the 2020 election. And I want to thank APIA Vote for highlighting history and growth of CAPAC through your video. You seeM it wasn’t too long ago that AAPI’s, were so invisible in the U.S. Capitol that if you saw someone walking down the halls, you just have to turn around and look, it was so unusual. But thankfully, this is not the case anymore. AAPI’s are now the fastest growing racial population in the country and the fastest growing voting block.
Judy Chu : (24:12)
Over the past decade, we’ve had more AAPI’s run for office and get elected than ever before. And as a result, we now have a record 20 AAPI members of Congress, our highest number in history. But not only that, AAPI’s have more than doubled our voter registration numbers over the last decade, with more than 11 million AAPI’s eligible to vote this year. And by 2044, we will have doubled even those numbers. We are also the swing vote in key swing states and districts all across the nation. And that is why I like to say we’ve gone from being marginalized, to the margin of victory. But in order to make a difference this November, we must do everything in our power to ensure that AAPI’s make our voices heard at the polls. And that’s why today’s presidential town hall is so important because the stakes have never been higher.
Judy Chu : (25:15)
These are difficult and sobering times with this country’s very health and economy at stake. Over 127,000 Americans are dead and over 40 million have filed for unemployment. The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted communities of color, including native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who in California have three to four times the COVID-19 mortality rate relative to their population. Small business is the key to the American dream for so many AAPI families, and yet they are struggling to stay open with language barriers making difficult the access to Payment Protection Program loans.
Judy Chu : (25:55)
We are also at a critical moment in our history about inclusivity and racism. Over the past month, Americans have taken to the streets to demand justice for the shocking murder of George Floyd and so many other victims, helping to kick-start a national conversation on racism and inequality that we have not seen in decades. On top of this, the coronavirus has incited intense anti-Asian xenophobia and hate crimes over the past few months that have threatened the safety of our community.
Judy Chu : (26:29)
It started in January with dirty looks, insults and misinformation that Asian American restaurants and businesses were more likely to have the disease and should be avoided. But in the last few months, it’s escalated to spitting, yelling and physical attacks against Asian Americans all across the nation, including an incident in Texas, where a man stabbed three Asian Americans, including two children, ages two and six, at a Sam’s Club saying that he wanted to kill Asian-Americans. This xenophobia has been exacerbated by political leaders have used the racist term Kung Flu and Chinese Virus to refer to coronavirus, even though health experts at the CDC and World Health Organization have repeatedly warned not to associate the disease with a specific geographic location or ethnicity due to the stigma it causes and is why they officially use the scientific and neutral term COVID-19. Regardless of which candidate you support or what your political affiliation may be, we all know that violent and hateful rhetoric and policies targeting a AAPIs or any American has no place in our society. But simply condemning these remarks is not enough. We need to know what candidates will do to stop hate speech, address inequality, and protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans. Today, it is more important than ever that we elect leaders who can govern in times of crisis and move our country forward.
Judy Chu : (28:08)
And AAPIs can be at the forefront of this. We can register people to vote and we can get those already registered to cast their votes in November. We can exercise the true power that we have as an AAPI community to make a difference in this country. Together, we can make sure that AAPI voters are the margin of victory in November 2020 and beyond.
Amna Nawaz: (28:40)
Congresswoman Judy Chu, Thank you so much for being with us here today and for your continued leadership. Now, before we welcome our campaign speakers, we have one more short video for you. This one taps into the emerging power of the Asian American Pacific Islander electorate.
Speaker 5: (29:03)
Let us be clear. We may have arrived in this country at different times and under different circumstances, but one thing is certain. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been a part of the fabric of this country since its very beginning. We may not have always been the most visible community, but our contributions have always had an impact that far outweighs our numbers. Today, we live in a world that barely resembles what it was even six months ago. Like many Americans we face issues and challenges that deeply affect communities, from healthcare to hate crimes, from the census to social justice, from immigration to equity, our stake in the next election has never been more personal. Let us be clear. AAPIs will be a part of the solution to these challenges and we will make that difference just like we always have.
Speaker 5: (30:06)
Today, we are mobilizing to meet the challenges we see and our communities vote will be the difference maker. It already is in multiple key races throughout the country. We are a community that is more energized and politically active than ever before. So let us be clear. As the fastest growing group in the country, our voting power has doubled over the last decade. Our voice has never been louder and our vote has never counted for more. And that is something every candidate should be clear on.
Vicky Nguyen: (30:44)
Does that get you excited for the 2020 election or what? All right, we are almost there, but we want to show you one more video, which really showcases the diverse voices from across the country and the issues that these folks want to hear from our candidates through self recorded videos.
Speaker 6: (31:29)
I identify with the Filipino American community.
Speaker 7: (31:32)
I identify with East Indian culture.
Speaker 8: (31:34)
I’m representing Cambodian community.
Speaker 9: (31:37)
I’m a Samoan American.
Speaker 10: (31:38)
I’m a Vietnamese American woman.
Speaker 11: (31:38)
I am a proud Filipina American.
Speaker 12: (31:42)
I identify as an Indian American.
Speaker 13: (31:44)
I’m a Chinese Cantonese American.
Speaker 14: (31:46)
I am Korean Italian American and an adoptee.
Speaker 15: (31:50)
I am from Campbell, California, and I’m Tongan.
Speaker 16: (31:53)
I’m Vietnamese American and based right here on the Gulf coast of Alabama.
Speaker 17: (31:56)
We represent the South Asian community for the state of Texas.
Speaker 18: (32:00)
My family and I immigrated from Bangladesh in the early nineties.
Speaker 19: (32:04)
I was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea.
Speaker 20: (32:07)
I’m a first generation Asian America who immigrated from Hong Kong.
Speaker 21: (32:12)
I belong to the Sikh community.
Speaker 22: (32:14)
My passion is serving and empowering my multi-generational Filipino American and API community.
Speaker 23: (32:20)
And I’m proud to be part of the API-SEIU Caucus.
Speaker 24: (32:25)
We represent the Asian American community.
Speaker 22: (32:30)
With the COVID-19 global pandemic and the protests over the murder of George Floyd, the political landscape has changed not only for Asian Pacific Islanders, but for everyone living in the United States.
Speaker 18: (32:42)
During the time of COVID-19, we’ve also seen a rise in the use of anti-China and other xenophobic messaging that has led to an increase in harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans.
Speaker 6: (32:53)
More recently, the Black Lives Matter movement has been heavy on my mind and how that’s hopefully ignited a revolution for the nation.
Speaker 25: (33:00)
So I’m looking for a candidate who will commit to these changes and will do so to protect people in my own community and the Vietnamese American community and the Southeast Asian American community. And who will also commit to the lives of folks in the Latinx community, of folks in the black community as well.
Speaker 26: (33:19)
Asia Pacific Americans are the fastest growing minority population in the United States, but we have particularly low civic engagement. This is something that needs to change.
Speaker 20: (33:28)
And that’s why I’m going to do everything I can to make sure our community votes in November.
Speaker 10: (33:34)
Voting in this time is the first step to not only realizing but actualizing a world where future generations can heal, prosper, and have the right to the pursuit of happiness.
Speaker 27: (33:45)
It belongs to me, it belongs to you. And it belongs to all of us. It belongs to the people.
Speaker 9: (33:50)
It has to transcend political parties. It can’t just be a conservative or liberal thing. It has to be a human thing.
Speaker 28: (33:58)
I plan to do my part in electing individuals who will work to bring-
Speaker 28: (34:03)
Part in electing individuals who will work to bring about positive change and move our nation forward.
Speaker 29: (34:08)
I am voting for democracy and for the candidate that is best able to make true the promise of America.
Speaker 30: (34:16)
So please vote this November to make a change. Thank you.
Amna Nawaz: (34:29)
All right guys. Let’s turn now to the campaigns. Now here’s how it’s going to work. In each case the candidate or surrogate will make brief opening remarks. He’ll then take questions from the moderators and from the community, some will be live, some will be taped, and of course, provide some answers. Just as a reminder we as the moderators are going to do everything we can to be respectful of everyone’s time. We ask all of you to please do the same, but without further ado, I am pleased now to introduce the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former vice president Joe Biden. Mr. Biden, over to you.
Joe Biden: (35:03)
Well thank you very much. I appreciate it, and thank you all at the APIAVote, you’re all talking about voting. This organization has an opportunity for us to be together. I also want to thank Congressman Chu for her incredible leadership in the House of Representatives and for her commitment to keeping the issues that matter to members of the Asian-American Pacific Islander community top of the mind for all of us. I’d like to start today by briefly addressing what I consider to be a horrifying revelation in the New York Times last night. Assuming the Times report is accurate, the U.S. intelligence, they report, the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that a Russian military intelligence unit, the same unit that was behind the assassination of a former KGB agent in London five years ago, has been offering bounties to extremist groups in Afghanistan to kill U.S. troops. There is no bottom to the depth of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s depravity if that’s true.
Joe Biden: (36:08)
It’s a truly shocking revelation that if the Times report is true, I emphasize again, is that President Trump, the commander in chief of the American troops serving in a dangerous theater of war, has known about this for months according to the Times, and done worse than nothing. Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin. He has had this information according to the Times and yet he offered to host Putin in the United States and sought to invite Russia to rejoin the G7. His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale. It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation, to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way [inaudible 00:37:07] betrayed. It’s a betrayal of every single American family with a loved one serving in Afghanistan or anywhere overseas, and I’m quite frankly outraged by the report.
Joe Biden: (37:16)
If I’m elected president, make no mistake about it. Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we will impose serious costs on Russia. I don’t just think about this as a candidate for president. I think about this as a dad, a father, who sent his son to serve in harm’s way for a year in the Middle East, in Iraq, and I’m disgusted on behalf of those families whose loved ones are serving today. When your child volunteers to serve, they’re putting their life on the line for the country, they take risk, known and unknown for this nation, but they should never, never, never ever face a threat like this, with their commander in chief turning a blind eye to a foreign power putting a bounty on their heads. If I’m president, this and so many other abuses will not stand.
Joe Biden: (38:05)
I know this is a difficult time for our country. More than 125,000 people have died because of COVID-19, with millions more infected. More than 20 million Americans are still out of work and all of us, all of us are contending with how we can ensure a strong reopening of our economy and the many AAPI-owned small businesses across the country without endangering the safety and health of ourselves, our families, and workers across America. At the same time, during a pandemic, Donald Trump is telling his administration to “slow down testing”, ending federal funding for test sites. I understand he just reversed that today. He was going to end funding for federal test sites, but Republican governors said don’t do it, he changed his mind. Fighting in court to strip people of their healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, and on top of all of this, Asian-Americans are being targeted with violence and subjected to xenophobia rhetoric from the mouth of the president himself.
Joe Biden: (39:11)
This is a president who instead of bringing our country together does everything he can to fan the flames of hate and division in this country. From the moment I launched this campaign, I’ve been speaking about the battle for the soul of our nation. This is part of that battle, and in this moment of national and global crisis, where the racial inequities that plague our society are even more evident now than they’ve been. At this time we need a president who can address every aspect of this pandemic with urgency and seriousness, including anti-AAPI bias. I know Donald Trump only knows how to speak to people’s fears, not to their better angels. He only ever speaks to place blame instead of claiming responsibility. That’s not who we are. We’re so much better than this president can even conceive of us being. Just look at how the AAPI community and so many others across this nation have responded to Trump’s racist attacks during the pandemic. By stepping up, doctors, nurses, researchers, frontline healthcare workers, grocery clerks, delivery drivers, restaurant owners. They’re showing the best of America, every single day. Standing [inaudible 00:40:36], filling in for Donald Trump’s complete lack of leadership when it comes to keeping Americans safe during this pandemic.
Joe Biden: (40:44)
Our AAPI community is essential, period. Period. Not just as essential workers, but essential to the very fabric of this nation. The AAPI community is essential to our American story, and I’m also here today asking for your support because this isn’t just a moment of crisis. It’s an incredible opportunity to build our country back, build it back better, even stronger than it was before. You know I think the American people have had the blinders ripped off in so many ways, ready to take on the deep systemic inequities that have plagued our society for much too long. I think we’re ready to deliver some real fundamental long overdue changes. I think we’re ready to celebrate the incredible strength that we draw from our diversity and harnessing everyone’s unique talents, and I’m looking forward to working with the AAPI community to deliver the progress we need for all Americans.
Joe Biden: (41:46)
That’s what we did in the Obama-Biden administration. President Obama and I have fought to expand opportunity and open the doors to more Americans, including fighting for AAPI communities. We established the White House initiative on Asian-American and Pacific Islanders. We helped two million AAPI individuals gain healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act. We protected thousands of Asian-Pacific American Dreamers by creating and expanding the DACA program. We strengthened the crimes protection for Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. We worked to disaggregate federal data to better meet the challenges facing the AAPI community. We secured long overdue compensation for proud Filipino veterans of World War II, and we appointed more AAPI judges to the bench than every administration in U.S. history combined. As president, I’ll build on this legacy and continue to fight for AAPI rights. I’ll make sure your voices and your interests are included from our courtrooms to the president’s cabinet.
Joe Biden: (42:56)
My administration will look like America. We’ll work together to ensure that the most sacred aspect of our democracy, the right to vote, is protected and accessible for all people. There’s so much, so much we can do, and it’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take leadership at the highest levels of our government and sustained grassroots pressure which you all provide. Nothing about this is going to be easy or automatic, but I believe we can do it together. So thank you again for having me. I’m looking forward to our conversation, and again, thank you very much for your activism.
Amna Nawaz: (43:37)
Vice President Biden, thank you so much for those remarks sir, and for being here and taking the time to answer our questions. I want to begin with one of my own if you don’t mind.
Joe Biden: (43:46)
Amna Nawaz: (43:46)
You mentioned some of those systemic issues, the inequalities we’re still addressing as a nation over time and I’d like to ask you about some questions you faced about your team. During the last election cycle Democratic candidates released staff diversity data on a regular basis, almost quarterly. You haven’t released yours yet. Your seniormost advisors it’s been reported are predominantly white, there’s very few black and Latino senior advisors. My understanding is no Asian-American senior advisors, please correct me if I’m wrong, but when we look at dismantling systemic racism in America, political institutions, like campaigns, are often among the worst offenders. So what do you now say to the voters of color who worry that if you can’t lead the way on fixing this on your own team right now, then maybe you can’t lead the way on fixing it in the rest of the country, and a related question, when will you release that staff diversity data Mr. Biden?
Joe Biden: (44:37)
I’ll release that diversity data today. When we get off this call, we’ll call you. The fact of the matter is we have a very diverse staff and we have a diverse staff that goes across the board and high level and senior positions. So I will make sure we release it to you and it does include AAPI members as well as a significant number of African-Americans, significant number of women and Latinos.
Amna Nawaz: (45:06)
Sir just to clarify when you say that we are talking about the seniormost members of your staff, not staff overall, but people with agency who are at the decision-making table. Is that correct?
Joe Biden: (45:14)
Yes. That’s correct. That’s correct.
Amna Nawaz: (45:16)
Wonderful. Thank you very much for that and I will take that call when I get it from your teams.
Joe Biden: (45:19)
All right. My team has to be watching this. When this is over, pick up the phone immediately and call her, okay?
Amna Nawaz: (45:28)
Thank you for that sir. Let’s turn now to some community questions. I know we have a lot [inaudible 00:45:32].
Joe Biden: (45:31)
By the way, one other thing. My administration is going to look like America. Not just my staff, the administration. From the vice president straight down through cabinet members to major players within the White House and the court. It’s going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation.
Amna Nawaz: (45:51)
Okay, let’s turn now to those community questions, sir. I want to bring in now, joining on Zoom, [Jong Vang Tao 00:45:56]. He is a community organizer in Minnesota. Here is the thing to know about him, Vice President. He is as I mentioned a community organizer, he was previously incarcerated for eight years. He now works for a regional government agency. I believe he joins us now and I’m going to hand it over to him to ask his question directly to you.
Joe Biden: (46:16)
Jong Vang Tao: (46:20)
Hello, thank you. Last month, Minnesota and our nation was traumatized by the murder of George Floyd and the civil unrest that followed. As we all are looking for a new way forward, we must acknowledge that these events are a result of the inequities within our systems. Past policies like tough on crime legislation has led to the over-policing of poor communities, including immigrant communities, and introducing them into the [inaudible 00:46:46] pipelines. Many people like me, who have finished paying our debts to society, we often struggle to rebuild our lives and overcome systemic barriers after prison. Some have been able to find jobs and others have been left with no other options but to start a new business. Many of us have started families and became upstanding members in the community. Despite all of these accomplishments, ICE has been deporting people like us since 2002. These actions are destroying families and abandoning good people into countries that many have never stepped foot in. Issues like DACA, immigration and deportation are all critical to my community. What will you do to ensure that all communities of color, including Southeast Asians and other small ethnic groups are not left out of your discussions on which immigration reforms and policies to prioritize in your first 100 days? Thank you.
Amna Nawaz: (47:43)
Jong, thank you so much for your question. Please, Vice President Biden, over to you.
Joe Biden: (47:48)
By engaging your leadership, as I have through my career, just like we did in our last administration. Now this pandemic has brought out the best in so many people, doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery clerks, delivery people, caregivers, heroic soldiers in the war against the virus. So many of them are Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, but this crisis has also brought out the worst. We’ve all heard about the horrible acts against Asian-Americans, blame for the coronavirus, harassment, violence, conspiracy theories, blaming Asian-Americans for COVID. Dangerous smears including by Donald Trump. Words matter, and the president’s words matter even more. I’m running to restore the soul of this country to make clear there’s no safe harbor here to stand up to anyone who has been left behind.
Joe Biden: (48:35)
As president, I’m going to fight every day to lead the change for significant change in all our policies and to make sure that every member of the diverse AAPI community is treated with dignity and has a same shot to succeed, and I’m going to make sure the AAPI community is represented in my administration. As I said under President Obama we appointed more AAPI judges than every previous administration combined, including four times more women of AAPI descent than any other president. [inaudible 00:49:08] advisory commission on AAPIs, Pacific Island taskforce, and the White House initiative on AAPIs, we held hundreds of stakeholder meetings and summits and worked with 24 federal agents, the whole committee, to make sure they had federal resources. Trump gutted all of that, and as president, I’m going to restart it and take it further.
Joe Biden: (49:29)
Let me go back to your comment about you having served your time in prison. We have to make a fundamental change in the way we deal with prisoners. That’s why in my view that … This is what I propose, we should turn, and I’ve been pushing this for a while now, we should turn our system into one of … From punishment to rehabilitation. Once you have served your time, right now what happens is you get 25 bucks on a bus ticket and a lot of people don’t have any place to go except back to right where they were before if they were in real trouble. I believe that you should be entitled to, anyone serving their time in prison should be entitled to every single solitary program that exists in the government, from access to housing to access to food to access to Pell grants to access to educational opportunity. It’s overwhelmingly in our interest that we do that, that we do that. There’s much more to talk about in terms of dealing with the whole notion of prison reform, but the biggest reason that we have to do is we have to make sure that people have an opportunity to have a new start.
Joe Biden: (50:39)
The idea that anybody … Well I won’t [inaudible 00:50:42], I get too excited about this one but there’s a lot we can do and I will do.
Amna Nawaz: (50:47)
Vice President Biden, thank you for that answer. Thank you to Jong Vang Tao for that question as well. We have more questions from the community. I’m going to hand it over now to my colleague Vicky.
Vicky Nguyen: (50:57)
Thanks so much Amna. Let me just go ahead and start my video here. We’re doing a lot of our own … There are you, hi, how are you, Vice President Biden –
Vicky Nguyen: (51:06)
Where you are?
Joe Biden: (51:07)
I’m in my back porch. Tell you what. Did you ever we’d be doing this from home?
Vicky Nguyen: (51:12)
I did not. It is the strangest time and I must say as strange as it is to be a journalist right now, it must be even more difficult and odd to be campaigning in the time of a pandemic when for months we’ve all been told to stay home.
Joe Biden: (51:25)
Vicky Nguyen: (51:26)
Yet that has not stopped your opponent though. President Trump has been holding rallies, events. We haven’t seen much of you, Vice President Biden. Americans have not seen you, so as you try to convince voters to cast their ballots for you, what do you say to the Silent Majority, who see you as an extension of President Obama, representing a time when many felt like they weren’t heard, they weren’t seen. People who feel like this country is trending too far left and I have one more part to this question I want to ask you. In your first 100 days, as president, what will you do to create a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants? That is a big issue for the AAPI community. As you know, 1.7 million face deportation threats, another 100,000 are young people who are affected by the DACA program. So two parts for you, what are you going to do to be more visible and what do you say to the folks that think you’re just going to be President Obama 2.0 and what are you going to do about immigration right when you get in office?
Joe Biden: (52:24)
Look, I am very proud to have served with Barack and it was one the great honors in my life. I thought he was a great president, but even he acknowledges we can’t go back to what it was. We have to go back and build back better and so I have a program that is significantly different and builds upon where we left off and tries to undo the damage that Trump has done, number one. Number two, I campaign from home, about Biden hiding in his cellar. Well the truth of the matter is over 200 million people have watched me on television and they’ve watched and the more that Donald Trump is out, the worse he does. I think it’s wonderful he goes out. I’m being a bit facetious because it’s dangerous what he’s doing with these rallies, but look at, his numbers have dropped through the floor. They’ve dropped through the floor, number one.
Joe Biden: (53:20)
Number two, I have gone out responsibly. I go out and I wear this mask when I go out and when I go out I keep social distancing. I went to Texas to be with the Floyd family for the funeral. I went up to Pennsylvania, Lancaster yesterday to meet with a group … The day before yesterday, to meet with a group of people who in fact have Obamacare being ripped out from under them and they have pre-existing conditions in their families. I’ve been down to Virginia, I’ve been around the country, but I do it responsibly and I don’t hold rallies because it is the reason why we’re in such trouble by not listening to the experts and the scientists about social distancing and wearing masks, which I never do when I walk outside of this house. I never fail to do.
Joe Biden: (54:08)
Now one day, on day one, I’m going to send the legislative immigration reform bill to Congress, to provide a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants who contribute so much to this country including 1.7 million, 1.7 million AAPI. My immigration policy is built around keeping families together, modernizing the immigration system by keeping families, unification and diversity as pillars of our immigration system, which it used to be. Ending Trump’s cruel inhumane policy at the border to rip children from their mothers’ arms. Take immediate action to protect Dreamers, including the more than 100,000 eligible Dreamers from East and South Asia. Rescinding the un-American Muslim ban immediately. Restoring refugee admission in line with the values and historic leadership of our country, raising the target to a minimum of 125,000 people a year in my first year. He’s cut it down to 15, the average has been 95,000 a year. Working with Congress to establish bipartisan legislation to ensure a minimum admission of 95,000 refugees. That’s who we are, that’s how my great-great-grandfather … Four greats back [inaudible 00:55:29], he got in a coffin ship in the Irish sea never knowing whether he was going to make it and he made it to the United States of America in 1848 [inaudible 00:55:38].
Joe Biden: (55:39)
So streaming, streamlining the naturalization process. Make it easier for qualified green card holders to move through his back law, and by the way, he just indicated … He ended H1B visas the rest of this year. That will not be in my administration. The people coming on these visas have built this country and so you ask the other parts of a question, I can’t remember what the other ones were. One was what I’m going to do about immigration, what was the other part? Was that it?
Vicky Nguyen: (56:10)
[inaudible 00:56:10] back in, can you hear me at least?
Joe Biden: (56:12)
I can hear you.
Vicky Nguyen: (56:13)
Okay, great. Yeah, it was what will you do specifically in that first 100 days when it comes to immigration?
Joe Biden: (56:18)
To send that … I have a bill written already, to send it directly to the Congress. Day one. Day one.
Vicky Nguyen: (56:27)
I appreciate it. Thank you so much. Vice President Biden, we are going to ask one of our community members next to ask you a question. Her name is [Vimila Rejenjun 00:56:34]. She is going to come to us from Zoom from North Carolina. She is a chef and a small business owner. Go ahead, Vimila.
Joe Biden: (56:42)
I don’t see anybody on this. Am I supposed to?
Vicky Nguyen: (56:47)
Oh hang on, here she is. Hang on, she’s going to unmute herself.
Joe Biden: (56:50)
Vicky Nguyen: (56:54)
There you go. Vimila, go for it.
Vimila Rejenjun: (56:58)
Hello, my name is Vimila Rejenjun as Vicky just said. I have lived in the United States for 40 years and just got naturalized as a citizen in 2019. 2020 will be my first [inaudible 00:57:12]
Joe Biden: (57:12)
Thanks for choosing the United States. Thanks for choosing us.
Vimila Rejenjun: (57:16)
Thank you and I feel so much at home here because civic engagement has always been my calling and I accidentally became a chef because of circumstances not having immigration papers to do other professional work which was in media and education. I became a chef 10 years ago and I saw the American dream be fulfilled in front of me with the coming successful award-winning chef and restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. So my representative, Congressman David Price has worked very closely with me to welcome refugees from about 19 countries right here at my restaurant and say hello and welcome home. So what we have done since COVID-19 as a small business is to reach out and continue our work to feed the hungry even though we are a for-profit business, a [inaudible 00:58:21] business that has believed in people, planet and profit and I must say that getting into business as an Asian-American woman has been really hard.
Vimila Rejenjun: (58:31)
Finding the capital was hard. Getting PPP right now during COVID-19 was extremely difficult. Major corporations got millions before we got our $100,000.00 which we have to spend within 24 weeks I may add. I must ask you, Vice President Joe Biden, what would you do to help us rebuild the economy so that small businesses that are family-owned and that are enriching the local economy, building the new South, because as you know, as the South goes, so goes the nation. What are we going to do? What will we do? What can I do to rebuild the economy as we go back into a post-COVID date?
Joe Biden: (59:19)
Well first of all, when they came up with the CARES Act, the $2 trillion that was supposed to be distributed, it was … I pointed out that it was likely to be what I call the Trump corrupt recovery. 40% of the money that was supposed to go to small businesses did not go to small businesses. It went to large businesses. They don’t need the help, they’re not the ones that need the help, and there’s also the Main Street proposal that had several billions of dollars in it. Not one single penny has been distributed so far, and I suggested in the very beginning that there be a proposal that the president initiate the Defense Production Act to insist that they watch the major banks to make sure they would distribute moneys that didn’t cost them at all, they’re covered, that distribute those moneys to small businesses which are the backbone and employ more people than the major businesses do, the big businesses.
Joe Biden: (01:00:19)
Guess what happened? The fact is that it didn’t happen. They did not get it. Those big banks don’t like lending money, so if you went to a big bank to get your access to the stimulus that was provided, they would say, “Do you have an account here? What is your credit standing? Do you have a credit card?” Et cetera, that’s not supposed to be how it works and in addition you may recall the president then fired the oversight board, the individual, a person who was supposed to watch and see how each of these dollars is expended and to make sure that this … This administrator would look and make sure the program was working. He fired them. There is no inspector general that was supposed to be there.
Joe Biden: (01:01:04)
First thing I’ll do as president is appoint an inspector general to go back and look for every single penny of the money that got distributed and hold those accountable where there is violation of the rule and/or there has been any chicanery. A lot of that money has gone to the big businesses that didn’t need it and didn’t get to where it’s supposed to be, and with regard to PPP, with everything from masks all the way to making sure that you’re able to open in ways that are safe and/or keep your workforce safe. That is ridiculous that it’s not been available to you, and it’s ridiculous that the president has been AWOL, he says I take no responsibility, that’s a state responsibility. This is a war he talks about, a war against this virus, yet he’s AWOL, he does not take any responsibility. He’s leaving it to the states.
Joe Biden: (01:01:56)
Second part of what you’re saying, to make sure we meet the diverse needs of this community [inaudible 01:02:02] an administration stimulus program designing jobs programs and helping businesses get ahead. Because small businesses are the key to our recovery. You’re the foundation of the community, of this country, of the American dream and they are bearing the brunt and you are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis today, including Asian-American community.
Joe Biden: (01:02:22)
Now look, Trump’s corrupt recovery is focused on the wealthy, well-connected, not the millions of mom and pops that are out there facing ruin. As I said earlier, 40%, 40% of the funds didn’t go to small businesses at all and the Main Street lending program has lent not a single dollar. Because many of the AAPI-owned businesses are cash operated and don’t have ties to banks, [inaudible 01:02:45] this paycheck protection program, funds that Trump is supposed to be supplying through the administration, through what the Congress passed.
Joe Biden: (01:02:57)
Here’s what I’ll do for small businesses now. Provide clear, consistent guidelines for safe reopening. Get the workers free testing and PPE to stay safe. Provide an ambitious restart package to help small businesses not only be able to reopen but rehire workers and cover the extra restart expenses and fixed costs like rent. Make sure that stimulus funds are distributed fairly. As I said, I’m going to appoint an inspector general on day one to make sure the funds actually get where they’re supposed to go, reverse half of the new PPP funds for small businesses with less than 50 employees so that … Right now, a small business is technically under 500 employees. That’s not what most people think is a small business. Half those funds should go to people with less than 50 employees, and even smaller. We have to focus on you have been the heartbeat of your community and of a community and the communities across the country.
Joe Biden: (01:03:59)
The other thing is that you’re working with Congressman Price who is a first rate guy. We in fact have to increase the numbers as I said earlier of refugees able to come to the United States of America.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:04:12)
Vice President Biden, I’m going to stop you right there just so we get time for another community question. That was great, we appreciate what you had to say on small businesses.
Joe Biden: (01:04:20)
Vicky Nguyen: (01:04:20)
I’m going to toss it to Melissa [Leilan 01:04:23]. She is coming in with a question about healthcare.
Melissa Leilan: (01:04:28)
APIs, including COFAs are among the most visible of healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients. Pacific Islanders are contracting and dying from the virus at an alarming rate, only to be largely forgotten in discussions of community impact. COVID-19 has raised onto a pedestal health disparity for people of color including APIs. Yet access to healthcare insurance is one of the biggest barriers our communities face due to language and policy barriers. One-third of Asian-Americans have limited English skills. What are your plans to ensure that all APIs can obtain health coverage with language assistance in your administration?
Joe Biden: (01:05:23)
Free for everyone, [inaudible 01:05:25] surge the testing to make sure it reaches the community. Get critical medical supplies and care, hospitals in every part of this nation, and I would immediately drop Trump’s efforts to overturn Obamacare and strip millions of healthcare even during this pandemic. He shouldn’t be putting politics … His politics ahead of the safety of the American people and you know, one of the things you all know better than any group is that Obamacare was and is still a big deal that covered 20 million uninsured, two million formerly uninsured AAPIs. As president I’m going to build on it with a public option, slashing premiums and deductions and drug costs, automatically enrolling people who are eligible for Medicaid but live in states that reject this expansion, double the funding for community healthcare centers and frontline care, and I will work to tear down the language barriers that keep AAPI from quality care.
Joe Biden: (01:06:31)
For example, during our administration we distributed health insurance information in seven Asian languages, Burmese, Chinese, Hmong, Khmer and Vietnamese and Lao and so as president I’m going to build on that important work and direct federal agencies to find new ways to increase access to federal programs to the AAPI community, including those with limited English proficiency. To ensure that the best practices are shared across departments and agencies. Now look, that includes making sure that AAPI communities have access to information about COVID-19. So far, the Center for Disease Control materials have been translated into Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese but other resources like those released by the White House, House Coronavirus Taskforce and other federal agencies are available only in English and Spanish. You all know the argument that most people don’t about the model minority? Well AAPI advocates across the country know that there is a section of the AA … If you take it as one big, big group, it has the highest education achievement, et cetera, but what we insist it was that we’ve … For example, at the Department of Education, integrated post and secondary education system, it should be broken down by ethnicity because it changes dramatically. This administration hadn’t done that. HHS has seven –
Joe Biden: (01:08:03)
… this administration hadn’t done that. HHS has seven Asian Americans and four Pacific Islander breakdown in categories. Department of Labor has done the same thing. This guy’s not done that at all. So you look out and generically, you say, “Okay, the AIPI community writ large has a great achievement higher than any other group in America.” But that misrepresents the fact that scores of ethnicities are in fact really being hurt and left behind. And we’re supposed to be breaking that out so we know exactly where they are, so they can be taken care of and treated fairly. That’s one of the priorities I will have, in addition to access to eliminating the language barrier. I went really quickly because I know we’re getting out of time. I apologize.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:08:51)
We appreciate it, thank you. Vice President Biden, I just want to say it’s day one, you said you will have an immigration plan-
Joe Biden: (01:08:58)
Vicky Nguyen: (01:08:58)
… you managed to use the word chicanery, and you are going to make your diversity data public right after this town hall. We’re looking forward to it because as we’ve been saying, representation certainly matters in all facets of life, private and public. We appreciate very much your time today.
Joe Biden: (01:09:14)
And we’re going to continue. By the way, this isn’t the end of the diversity. This is just the beginning and I said, the administration will look like it. So thank you very much.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:09:23)
Joe Biden: (01:09:23)
Vicky Nguyen: (01:09:23)
And I’m going to now transition. I’ll let you go, Vice President Biden. We’re actually now going to bring in someone from the Trump campaign. We do not have the pleasure of having the President here with us today for this town hall, but we are joined by someone equally special who will be speaking on behalf of the president. And that is Governor Eddie Baza Calvo. He has been the Governor of Guam since January of 2011. Governor Calvo has worked in the private sector as the General Manager for both the Pacific Construction Company and the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Guam. He’s from my neck of the woods. He is a graduate of the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California, and he and his wife, Christine, have six children. I’d like to welcome you, Governor Calvo. Can you hear me okay?
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:10:11)
I can hear you fine. And by the way, good morning from Guam.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:10:14)
Good morning. What time is it there?
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:10:17)
It’s just about six in the morning. So-
Vicky Nguyen: (01:10:20)
Wow, you got up really early for us.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:10:21)
… I’m going to greet you, and for all our Asian American Pacific Islanders, I’m going to greet you in our language and a bunch of others. [foreign language 00:02: 30].
Vicky Nguyen: (01:10:36)
Impressive. Thank you, Governor. So let me ask you, President Trump, he continues to call the coronavirus, the Kung flu. He has objected to having a Black Lives Matter mural on Fifth Avenue in front of his building. As you heard Representative Chu saying earlier, the hate incidents against Asian Americans has gone up tremendously since the coronavirus started, and since we started hearing terms like China virus, Kung flu. Some are saying the president’s going back to his 2016 playbook of using divisive language to appeal to his base. And a recent poll shows that Americans are the unhappiest they’ve been in nearly 50 years, in part because of the lockdowns and the pandemic. The President says he wants to keep America great, but his track record indicates he’s more of a divider than a uniter. How will he try to bring Americans together in his second term? And if he is reelected, what commitment will President Trump make to a diverse cabinet and appointees who have a history of understanding and representing AAPI communities.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:11:41)
Amazing you mentioned the word Kung flu. As a matter of fact, if you can take a look at history, that Kung flu comment even came from the Obama administration. So I want to correct you as to who are the authors-
Vicky Nguyen: (01:11:54)
That’s not true, sir. That’s not true, sir. I will say, Governor, it actually came from people who were waging a public health campaign. It was not linked to the Obama campaign. It was used twice during his presidency when public health agencies were trying to fight the flu.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:12:09)
If you can please allow me to continue, but again, it came within the Obama administration. I can tell you with inclusion within the Trump campaign, I’m a part of it. If you look at the representation and whether it’s on the White House Advisory Commission, Asia Pacific Affairs, my chair is Elaine Chao. So I’m here as an Asian American and Pacific Islander to represent the Trump campaign.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:12:41)
And I got to tell you something about these division. If you take a look at what is happening throughout this nation, and you look at some of the events, and by the way, as a member of the White House Commission, I’ve seen what is the impact on some of our Korean American stores, our Vietnamese hair and nail shops, our Filipino restaurants that have been looted and people robbed as a result of the riots. And I can tell you that when you look at the destruction and whether it’s from looting, whether it’s robbing, or burning flags, or tearing down statues, most of those people, not all, aren’t going to vote for President Trump. Many of them actually are supporters of the Biden campaign.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:13:37)
So as you talk about division, I think maybe especially those within the Biden campaign, got to look in a mirror because a lot of their supporters are the ones that are responsible for this. So I hope I’ve answered that question. Much of the damage is not happening from MAGA or Trump supporters.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:13:58)
In terms of what the president will do to have a diverse cabinet and appointees, I understand that you’re there and then Elaine Chao is there and that is representation, but what will the president do moving forward if he is reelected? And do you think, and even if it were to be used during the time when President Obama was in office, the term Kung flu, are you saying that makes it right to continue using it now, especially given the atmosphere of racism and hate that AAPI communities are reporting?
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:14:31)
I think words, you got to be very careful on words. And I got to tell you my president, he sometimes very unorthodox and he uses certain words, but you also got to look at actions. And when you take a look at the actions of the Trump administration, whether it’s my participation or Secretary Chao, or as a matter of fact, as we go into housing, some of the great ideas that have come from again, Ben Carson, who is Secretary of HUD and many others, you already see participation, whether it’s from Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:15:07)
I’ve got to tell you in our advisory commission, and I’m talking to White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, you got two folks from the islands, actually three, two from Guam, one from Samoa. It’s interesting how it expanded as well, because not only do you have Asian American Pacific Islanders from American Samoa, Hawaii and Guam and the Northern Mariana’s, but within this administration, there actually been an expansion to our compact states.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:15:39)
And these are nation states that have a very intimate relation with the United States. And I talk about the Republic of the Marshall Islands. I talk about the Republic of Palau, and I talk about the Federated States of Micronesia, which encompass an area of the Pacific larger than the United States. And it’s in the Trump White House, that there is actually an effort to work with not only the Asian American Pacific Islanders within America itself, but even with our special partners, such as a compact states, which have a very deep and intimate relationship with the United States. So again, that’s another first for the Trump administration.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:16:18)
And do you know anything about what he’ll do when it comes to his cabinet or his legislative choices? As you heard Vice President Biden talking about the number of judges that were appointed under his term with President Obama, I’m wondering if you can get more specific about what President Trump would like to do in his second term, when it comes to AAPI representation?
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:16:38)
He’s already doing it from home. As a matter of fact I was going to announce it in my opening speech, but I’m very proud that just two weeks ago we had a virtual commencement-
Speaker 31: (01:16:52)
Let’s have you toggle in-
Vicky Nguyen: (01:16:52)
I’m sorry. I think someone’s speaking over you.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:16:53)
Yes. We had a commencement speech at our University of Guam here and it was virtual and it was spoken to these 500 new graduates of University of Guam. This is a young Korean woman that was born and raised in Guam. Her family immigrated to Guam years ago. She’s Korean American and a proud Guamanian. And just several weeks ago, with President Trump appointing her as an ambassador and the Senate ratifying it, she became the first Guamanian to serve, and the newest Ambassador to the Counselor Core of the United States of the Diplomatic Corps. So that’s just another first for the Trump administration.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:17:43)
I can’t predict who the president is going to appoint in major cabinet positions. But I can tell you, I’ve seen in my visits to the White House and meeting with those that are a part of the administration, and whether it’s in an official capacity, or even in the campaign, I’m seeing a growing diversity. I’ve seen a heck of a lot more even African-Americans that are part of the campaign. I’ve seen a lot more Hispanics and of course Asian-Americans as well.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:18:15)
So I’m very confident about things. And again, in the weeks ahead, I’m pretty sure that the president and his people will announce any other types or any other new prospective cabinet members. And again, by the way, I’m one of them.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:18:36)
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:18:37)
I want to be given this … I want to be thank the president for giving me this opportunity to speak on his behalf. Because really, if you look at Guam, it’s a Pacific Island, but it’s just due South of Japan. So I am an Asian Pacific Islander. I fit every part of the category and I’ve got about six different ethnicities running through my blood. So I think I’m one of those, but-
Vicky Nguyen: (01:19:01)
And Governor Calvo, I will say [crosstalk 01:19:03]-
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:19:03)
I’ve seen more diversity coming in the second part of the Trump administration as well.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:19:07)
Thank you. We have several questions from the community for you, but forgive me. I was so excited to get to your questions, I forgot to have you do your opening statement. And it’s so early over there in Guam, thank you for waking up early to join us here in the US, on the mainland I should say. So please, if you would just open up and let us know what to expect from the Trump 2020 campaign, please.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:19:31)
Thank you so much for that introduction. Hey, and I told you earlier, I’ve given the greetings of several languages that make the constituency of the people of warm. I can’t forget my fellow American Pacific Islanders. So as I greet you all, I’d also like to say to my Samoan brothers and sisters [foreign language 00:11:51] and also to my friends and neighbors from Hawaii, Aloha. I want to thank President Trump and his campaign team, as well as the organizers of the Asian Pacific Islanders American voters presidential town hall for giving me this opportunity to speak in behalf of President Trump and Mike Pence. I’d also like to acknowledge and thank our former Vice President, Joe Biden, Congresswoman Judy Chu, and thank them, not only their presence, but also their public service.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:20:25)
Now for many Americans, most of their knowledge of Guam came in August of 2017 because that’s a date that North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un announced to the nation and the world that he would be launching ballistic missiles in our direction. Now what most Americans didn’t know is that threat was just the latest in a long series of escalating rhetoric and militaristic activities that had been building up since 2012. I came in in January of 2011, so most of my term was filled by threats by Kim Jong Un.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:21:01)
Now my perspective of a belligerent North Korea is rather unique. See, I had the opportunity to serve as a governor of an American territory that was targeted by an adversary of the United States, both within the terms of former Vice President Biden, and then the first two years of President Trump. Under the previous administration, from 2012 to 2016, every year the threats coming from North Korea became more and more bellicose. Every year from 2012 to 2016, the underground nuclear testing became more and more frequent and a stronger magnitude. In fact, even some experts suspected that there may have been thermonuclear destinations.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:21:49)
Now with those bigger explosions also came ballistic missile testing with longer and longer trajectories. Now it came to a point that not only Guam, Hawaii, and Alaska were within the bullseye, but also potentially the States within the contiguous 48 in the North American continent. Now then came President Trump. Now President Trump may not have drawn a line in the sand, but he’d definitely drawn a line in the deep blue Pacific. No American territory or state would be threatened or attacked. And if this warning was not heeded then the consequences to North Korea would be catastrophic. Now that president’s blunt warning was also coupled with crippling sanctions, and it is ironic, but also with personal engagement with Chairman Kim. Now the end result as I left public office is that those incendiary threats ended. Nuclear testing ceased. And there are no more missile flights in a direction of Guam, Hawaii, or the mainland.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:22:53)
But I’d like to give you another perspective of President Trump, and it’s also on his handling of the North Korean crisis, but I think it’s very important. You know what? As the president completed that exhausting summit with Chairman Kim in Singapore, he stopped by Guam on his way back to Washington DC. And I still remember quite clearly my meeting with him on Air Force One. And though he hadn’t rested from his marathon summit, he needed to ask me something very important. So the first thing the president asked me when we greeted, in the typical Trump way, “Governor, how are the people of Guam doing?” Are they fearful? I said, “No, Mr. President. There are no more threats. There are no more tests. People doing okay.” And then he gave that smile and that kind of confident, Trumpian affirmative nod and he said, “Good.”
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:23:47)
Now the reason why I bring this up and why it’s relevant to each and every one of our Asian Pacific American constituents, is it because it tells a true story behind that Trump presidency. And what I think is so unique and special. Now, all you folks, a lot of folks freaked out about the Tulsa rally. Some said, “Dangerous.” “Too little people.” But I hope they listened to the context of it because folks like me, who’ve been in politics for 20 years, I got to admit it, when I listened to that speech, he is probably one of the most unorthodox presidents that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. But while some may question or disagree with his style, the results speak for themselves. Now, the clarity of what President Trump is all about for me was made manifest by one statement made at the rally. And I remember it because it’s stuck to me, “I’m campaigning for the forgotten.” That’s what he bellowed up and it made it all very clear to me.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:24:49)
Now I’m going to give folks a little geography and history lesson. Guam is the furthest American soil from our nation’s center of power in DC. We’re a small US Territory, and our 168,000 citizens aren’t even eligible to vote for a president. And yet he’s called me here to represent the people, his campaign. But if there’s any one place in America that I guess could be described as forgotten, that could be Guam. This president, who as his aide’s told me, had not slept in nearly 20 hours, had to stop by in Guam, not just to see me, but more importantly to inquire if our people were still living in fear. And that’s probably why I witnessed more progress in our dealings with the federal government in two years working with the Trump administration, then six years under the previous Democrat administration. Whether it was increased Medicare reimbursements to our public hospital, treating with Medicaid federal matching on par with subsidies provided to States, relief from federal edicts and lawsuits … and there were a lot of them under the Obama administration … lower taxes, and opening up of economic opportunity zones.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:25:58)
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have gone too long as the forgotten ones. Well, President Trump changed that and in President Trump’s first term pre-COVID-19 Asian Pacific American entrepreneurship and jobs had grown, unemployment had dropped to record lows. And even with our nation in the throws of a pandemic, President Trump assigned into law direct funding for subsidizing the unemployed, providing financial assistance to businesses hit hard as a result of the shutdown, and is paving the way for reopening the economy and stimulating record growth in these months and years ahead.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:26:37)
But before I close, I want to just comment on some of the tragic events. I’m thousands of miles away, so I’m watching on TV. And starting with that senseless murder of George Floyd and what led afterwards, the sadness, the mourning, the outcry, division, violence, destruction that seems to be engulfing our nation. Here in Guam there is no majority. Like I said, I got five or six races within my blood. But we’re rather a compilation of minorities that did hold silent protests and they were held because from every ethnicity in Guam, just to put a focus on a just cause because of that evil act of somebody in a position of power and authority abusing his power and taking the life of his fellow man. But you know what? Here in Guam, there was no violence, there was no destruction, and there was no burning of an American flag.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:27:34)
You see in Guam, for a lot of folks there’s a reverence held to that flag, particularly the elderly, for the stars and strikes. So maybe it has a lot to do with our tragic history. I’m almost finished, but let me tell you our history. Seventy-six years ago, the penalty for any Guamanian possessing an American flag was to get their heads chopped off. The reason being was Guam was under enemy occupation. And I’m blessed that both my parents are still alive, but after all these years, they still remember that fateful day in December eighth when our island was bombed and invaded. They remember three long years of Imperial occupation. They remember the slave labor. They remember the beatings and the executions, and they remember that gnawing raw emotion of fear. They woke up with that fear. It went through the whole day until the quiet of night. This island, that was consumed with fear, there was a bunch of people that still held onto an American flag. That flag was folded, it was hidden with great care, and it was preserved. All of this done despite the extreme consequences of death if caught. Now when some of these [foreign language 00:20:53], the elderly, were asked why, was because that American flag represented hope. It was a symbol of America. And for the Chamorros of Guam, I’m a Chamorro, that flag gave us that slim hope to persevere and endure from one day to the next that someday America would return and would free our people from rape, enslavement, and death.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:29:18)
Now those Guam survivors of World War II, or those democracy protesters in Hong Kong, who came out in the thousands waving the American flag, all those Iranian college students, where the mullahs had put the flag on the pavement, who refused to step on it and desecrate it, we all have one thing in common, as diverse as that is. That red, white, and blue is a symbol of America. America is a symbol for their hope. And that’s why that flag is cherished and honored by such a diverse grouping of citizens throughout the globe. And for those around the world that hold that hope, that’s what America symbolizes. And I got to tell you, cause I got a lot of friends out here, that are non-citizens in Guam, the pictures of American citizens wrapping, burning flags around statues is perplexing and troubling. But for President Trump, that American flag and what it stands for is still worth it. It’s worth cherishing and honoring. America is great. And if you reelect Donald Trump as our president, America will continue to prosper and to be that beacon of hope and greatness for the world. So thank you, God bless America and God bless those stars and stripes.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:30:42)
Governor Calvo, thank you very much for giving us some insight into your role and your connection to President Trump, as you call him, an unorthodox leader. I want to turn it over to one of our questioners, her name is Kim Dinh, she comes to us from Pittsburgh and she is an immigrant rights advocate. She worked at the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition. And Kim, I think you’re there. Would love for you to go ahead and ask your question live if you are ready. Yes, I see you. Take it away.
Kim Dinh: (01:31:15)
Thanks. Hi, my name is Kim. I am an immigrant rights and workers’ rights advocate working and living in Pennsylvania. I work with diverse communities, including immigrants and refugees from many different backgrounds, as well as low income Asian and Pacific Islander workers. And so in recent weeks, of course we’ve witnessed COVID-19 related xenophobia, hate, rising unemployment, rising evictions, foreclosures. We’ve seen healthcare gaps, continued incarceration and detention of people despite the public health crisis. And of course the violence perpetrated by the police against Black and brown people.
Kim Dinh: (01:31:53)
And all of this is not new. They are not separate issues. This global pandemic just exposes a huge and existing crisis in America of systemic racism and poverty. There are so many injustices that I see, and I truly believe that all of our injustices are linked as dispossessed people. So my question today is what concrete steps and specific policy changes will President Trump, if reelected, make in his first 100 days to end this cycle of hate, oppression, and systemic racism of people, including Asian American and Pacific Islanders? Thank you.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:32:27)
Thank you so much. And again, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve seen it firsthand with President Trump and his vision for racism-free America. President Trump believes in the people. He doesn’t believe in whatever color it is, whether you can vote or not for president. I mentioned even our young Ambassador Kim. I think when you take a look at what President Trump is doing, certain steps he’s pushing for, he’s pushing for school choice. Because he believes that the educational opportunities of those living in these traditional underserved communities, that’s a … you talk about the systemic racism or corruption? Well, some of these failing school systems, he would like to see those people living in these communities have the school choice for themselves, so that they can put their children into the school they believe is best for them.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:33:26)
It’s interesting listening to Vice President Biden. When President Trump signed the Juvenile Justice Reform Act a lot of what that did was to fix the problems that were created by then Senator Biden when he pushed for that crimes bill. And once that crimes bill was passed in 1994 I believe, that was a one way path for so many of our minorities to prison. Now, when you go to look at the details of this criminal justice reform, well, you’re eliminating the three strikes, you’re giving more flexibility to judges to make decisions on whether incarceration is even necessary.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:34:17)
I got to admit it, I took advantage as a governor. I saw the graduates out of our prison there. There was a group of women that had taken construction and heavy equipment classes, and a lot of it, that was the vision of President Trump. He’s even expanded the Pell grants to help for the education of the clients in prisons. Heck, there’s even partly the identifying of those prisoners coming out so that they have a job when they get in.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:34:58)
With President Trump there is much that he has done in regards to the … you know, I’m going to talk about systemic racism because he’s done a lot. But I think when you get to the heart of the matter, it was best said … a lot of stuff could be done at the federal level, but what can be done is most important in the local level. And there was a interview made by the former Mayor of Baltimore, and it was her disappointment … there was a policing bill that was coming out. As a matter of fact, President Trump had championed a police reform bill that would give incentives the payment of body cams, the incentives for training, for use of non-choke holds unless the life of a policeman was threatened, the mining and collection of data to track bad apples. And, but I remember, it again, the Congress, if failed. God bless Senator Scott, President Trump was with him, but he couldn’t get through the Senate.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:36:20)
But there was a statement made by the former mayor of Baltimore, and I can recall she said it has to happen in the local level. And you got to clean out this racist, or this corruption that’s within the system. And let me tell you, you have the City of Minneapolis that hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1972. That’s [inaudible 00:28:49]. You have the City of Atlanta that has not elected a Republican mayor since 1878. And by the way, history, Guam was still a part of the Spanish Empire in 1878. St. Louis, the murder capital of America, it last elected a Republican mayor in 1944. World War II was raging and Guam at that time was part of the Empire of Japan. We seem to be in the middle of all these great empires. Chicago, the city with enough murders to be considered a war zone hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1931, the height of the Great Depression.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:37:26)
It certainly does [crosstalk 00:01:37:27]-
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:37:27)
President Trump … let me continue. President Trump and Republican Party aren’t to blame for the catastrophic failures of these American cities. I’ll be blunt, the sole responsibility lies in those Democratic Party bosses that have had control of some of these cities, not only for decades, but for centuries. The Soviet Union I can recall had one party rule, but it was only for 72 years. Atlanta’s had it for 140. So if there’s anyone that has blood in their hands, it’s those leaders, from the murders, the looting, the anarchy that has arisen.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:38:00)
I’m not sure that it [crosstalk 01:38:04]-
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:38:04)
All of those folks that have caused that … I’m just going to tell you-
Vicky Nguyen: (01:38:05)
… murder and anarchy.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:38:07)
… it’s been the supporters of Joe Biden that have been responsible for this. And it’s those party bosses that have perpetuated control of these cities for decades and centuries.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:38:21)
And Governor Calvo, just let’s be clear [crosstalk 00:30:24].
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:38:24)
I’m almost over. If, I think President Trump, we reelect him, that’ll be the first big step in getting rid of the systemic corruption. But this election, you got to get rid of those party bosses that go to the same cocktail parties, the same fundraisers, the same conventions, that have control of these cities that are collapsing. And that all came from the democratic corruption in these cities, these cities that were controlled by the Democrats for decades, if not centuries.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:38:54)
Okay. Governor Calvo, let’s get back on track here. And I do want to make it clear-
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:38:57)
I was on track.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:38:58)
… we don’t know who … I mean on track in terms of answering the questions from the community, which is why we are here. And I do want to make it clear the protesters, we don’t know who they’re voting for. This is your opportunity to speak on behalf of the Trump campaign to this group of AAPI voters, which is the largest and fastest growing group of minority voters. And I want to bring in another live question, right now-
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:39:23)
I just got to correct. I think my reading of the graffiti, I don’t see much love letters to President Trump. There was some graffiti, pretty explicit. Okay, continue.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:39:30)
Let’s go ahead and bring in Shenlin Chen. She is joining us from Detroit, Michigan. Shenlin, are you there? We’re happy that you’re taking part in this town hall and you have a question for the Trump campaign. And there you are. Fantastic. If you can hear us, please go ahead and take it away. I know you are the President of the Association of Chinese Americans. Thanks for joining us.
Shenlin Chen: (01:39:52)
Hi, Governor Calvo. Good morning.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:39:55)
Shenlin Chen: (01:39:55)
Good morning to you. [foreign language 01:39:57]. Well, it’s an honor to me [inaudible 00:32:00]. I’m Shenlin Chen from Detroit, Michigan. I am the President of the Association of Chinese Americans. And thank you for taking questions from the community. Detroit is home to Vincent Chin, a victim of a hate crime and racial killing 38 years ago just this past Tuesday.
Shenlin Chen: (01:40:17)
Today, the AAPI community is once again being targeted. We are being wrongfully blamed for the spread of COVID-19 despite our efforts, including some loss of lives to fight a pandemic on the front line. And also Asian Americans have been identified as a model minority. However, one third, like someone mentioned earlier, one third of our population is limited English proficiency, and a half of them is foreign born. In our work we see many underprivileged families and individuals, especially seniors, immigrants, are afraid of getting sick or receiving treatment they need to have in hospital due to the lack of health insurance and essential language support.
Shenlin Chen: (01:41:02)
So my question for you, and I know that you have mentioned somewhat earlier, but would you please elaborate a little bit on what are the plans at national and federal level to ensure that all AAPI Americans can obtain affordable health coverage? So either Medicaid or marketplace, with appropriate language assistance as a priority in your administration. And if elected, what specific actions will you take to help unify Americans and what message will you send to help the country heal physically and emotionally? Thank you.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:41:40)
Okay. Thank you so much. But it’s ironic, you mentioned Detroit and I hate to rub it into the Democratic Party bosses, but the last time Detroit had a Republican mayor I think it was 1962. So again, some of the systemic issues of corruption you see in Detroit has to do with the same folks that meet with President Biden in the convention that are held by the Democratic Party.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:42:03)
When it comes to-
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:42:03)
Those are held by the democratic party. When it comes to COVID response, if you take a look at the unprecedented efforts in terms of healthcare, the president invested $2 billion in community health centers, helping 28 million patients, a lot of them minority and Asian American Pacific Islanders. The president signed legislation to guarantee Coronavirus testing free of cost-sharing, removing financial obstacles for Americans who would otherwise be unable to access them. $2 billion was devoted to support hospitals with high COVID-19 admissions based on their Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments. The federal government is also covering the cost of coronavirus treatment for those that can’t afford it. In healthcare, also I’m looking at the most vulnerable. The president is committed to protecting Americans with preexisting conditions. The president has signed into law historic right to try legislation, which is giving the terminally ill patients hope that they can try new experimental drugs. The president signed into law the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, and that gives about $30 million every year for child cancer research.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:43:29)
The vice president mentioned Obamacare and folks, you’ve got to recall, and you look at the historic fact of Obamacare. The last three years of Obamacare under President Obama, the cost of premiums went up by 34%. A lot of that were on drugs and by the way, I’m in the insurance industry. The administration, I guess they made their deal with the lawyers and with big pharma, so the scapegoat were the insurance companies, the only group that tries to do the managing and ensuring there’s a check and balance so that the healthcare providers and the drug companies aren’t gagging us with prices that are going up. So, what President Trump has done in focusing on bringing the drugs down prices, FDA has approved a record number of generic drugs for every year of the Trump presidency. The increase in generic drug use by Americans has saved about $26 billion for the first two years of the Trump administration.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:44:41)
The president signed legislation eliminating the pharma gag clause. What the gag clause is with pharmaceuticals or with pharmacies, the gag clause prevented pharmacists from telling consumers about the lower price alternatives to expensive drugs. Now, the president is also pushing for drug makers to show their prices on ads and taking steps towards importing less expensive drugs from Canada. If there’s any big difference between what the president is moving on and Obamacare, it’s about choice. Obamacare is about single-payer, and we tell you what to do and what to use. This administration expanded the use of short-term limited-duration health insurance plans, STLDs, which offer more choices at lower cost to consumers. The administration has expanded access to association health plans. They’re called AHPs. Now, that makes it easier for small businesses to band together, to offer better insurance and lower premiums.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:45:44)
A lot of our Asian American businesses, Pacific Islanders, are small. So, this allows them, similar to a co-op, to come together, to band together, to buy insurance plans. The administration also expanded the health reimbursement arrangements. Those are called HRAs. Now, this is interesting. It allows employees to use money from their employer to buy the insurance of their choice. So, you’re working from somebody, that company is already providing a certain amount of money for insurance. Well, it’s just saying, “Hey, we’ll take that money and let us” and I’m talking the employee, “make that decision.”
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:46:21)
President Trump, what I like about him, he understands the intricacies of these complex issues and is able to address those challenges and provide the meaningful and effective policies to ensure that Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are treated equally. But what I like, especially about the Trump administration, I look back as a governor. It seemed from the previous administration everything came from the top. That template from Washington, DC, that way of doing things was thrown to everybody. And whether it’s New York City, or Agaña, Guam, the Trump administration is different. It’s about more focusing on autonomy, decision-making at a local level. So, that, in a nutshell, is a little bit of what’s going to be happening, what’s happening, and what we plan to see expand with President Trump reelected.
Vicky Nguyen: (01:47:12)
Governor, thank you for that information about the HR raise and the expanded access to those association health plans. We appreciate that take. I imagine it must be a little bit difficult to speak on behalf of someone else. I’m going to turn it over now to co-moderator, Amna Nawaz, with a few more questions from the community. Amna, go ahead.
Amna Nawaz: (01:47:31)
Thank you so much, Vicky. Governor Calvo, It is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much for being here. Before we go back to some additional questions from the community, I do have one of my own if you can indulge me.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:47:43)
Amna Nawaz: (01:47:43)
We are, as I mentioned, so grateful you took the time to be here, but we should note that President Trump opted not to come nor to send a video message, instead to send you as surrogate. According to the press reports, it appears he went golfing today, and according to his Twitter account, he’s been tweeting about healthcare, the affordable care act and retweeting some QAnon conspiracy theorist accounts. We are glad you’re here to take questions, but many are wondering why are you here instead of him?
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:48:16)
I thought he made it very clear to me, and it was directed to me. This organization is Asian America Pacific Islanders. I’m thankful that the vice president has come here, but he’s not Asian American, nor is he Pacific Islander. I think it was important for the Trump campaign to have someone here that represented. You talked earlier about representation in the cabinet. Well, what better to represent the Trump campaign from a guy from Guam who lives directly South of Tokyo, who has Spanish, Chamorro, Filipino, a little bit of Chinese blood? So, in reality, I guess I represent a microcosm of the Trump campaign, and what better person to speak for President Trump on Asian American and Pacific Islander affairs than an Asian American from the Pacific Island of Guam? That’s my take on it.
Amna Nawaz: (01:49:22)
Well, just to follow up on that, sir, if you don’t mind. Many people saw Mr. Biden’s participation here as an acknowledgment of the growing importance of this community’s voice and the chance to court them directly. By not hearing from President Trump directly, what is your message to Asian American Pacific Islander voters who aren’t yet sure who they want to vote for and were hoping to hear directly from the president himself?
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:49:47)
Yeah. Well, one thing, it’s virtual. I guess, here I am. It’s virtual. In fact, the vice president was virtual too. I can’t tell you … I know there’s been a lot of people criticizing President Trump, but he doesn’t stay in a basement. He goes out there. And by the way, the folks that go to these rallies or these meetings that we’ve had, they’re Asian American, and you only see them in real life. It’s not to a screen. So, again, for all my Asian American Pacific Islander friends, there’s the optics, like I said, of you thinking that he’s not here, but then there’s the reality that he’s out there.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:50:25)
Well, you’re saying he went to a golf course, but I do know with President Trump every day he’s actually going out and meeting the people and he’s not afraid to answer tough questions. He’s not hidden in a basement. So, I want you all folks you to know that President Trump has so much confidence in Asian American Pacific Islanders, that he appoints me to be a surrogate, an Asian American Pacific Islander. Have confidence in President Trump because you know what? He doesn’t forget the forgotten ones like the previous administration. He’ll remember us. That’s my answer.
Amna Nawaz: (01:51:02)
Thank you for that, Governor Calvo. I do want to bring in some more questions from the community.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:51:05)
Amna Nawaz: (01:51:05)
We have some folks waiting, I believe, to get in here. May yer Thao will be delivering our next question. I hope that May yer can hear me. If you can, please do go ahead and put your question to Governor Calvo.
May yer Thao: (01:51:18)
Thank you. Good afternoon, governor, or rather, good morning. My name is May yer Thao and I am a Hmong American from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, representing the Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition of Wisconsin. I was the first in my family to have been born here in this country. My parents and my older siblings came as refugees from the Vietnam War, and a quick little-known fact, the Hmong assisted the CIA during the Vietnam War in Laos. Thus, how we came to be in this country. Governor, much of my career has been spent in economic development and in affordable housing, especially in underserved communities, such as our AAPI communities.
May yer Thao: (01:51:59)
So, as you can imagine, I’ve seen great disparities in these underserved communities in both of these arenas. Especially during this pandemic, our AAPI businesses have suffered greatly because AAPIs have been unfairly blamed for the virus. So, this has been a hard hit on our AAPI communities, but also, nearly three-quarters of our AAPIs who currently live in poverty already continue to face extended unemployment. So, my question is, what steps will President Trump take to ensure that our AAPI communities are included in the economic recovery and growth efforts? Thank you.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:52:43)
Before I get into my answer, there’s another member of the advisory commission, a fellow named Pastor Herman Martir, and I’ve never had the opportunity to meet someone personally from the Hmong community, but in several of our meetings, the focus of the pastor has been the Hmong community and how to get the needed assistance to them. So, you have an advocate in Herman Martir. A little bit of history too, Guam has always been … it seems to be the place where, when some war happens and those that aided America are in trouble, we seem to be that conduit. In the fall of Saigon, 100,000 Vietnamese came through Guam and were put up in camps here. As a matter of fact, some of them chose to live in Guam, raise their families. My God brother is married to a refugee from Vietnam. Then, of course, many traveled or made their way back to the United States.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:53:57)
Would you believe the Kurds even were in Guam? I still remember in the 1990s where our neighbors there was about five or 6,000 Kurds that came through here. So, many people don’t know about Guam, but a lot of our immigrants and those refugees have come to our island, fleeing the ravages of war. Now, all of America, including my island home prior to COVID-19, were enjoying record economic job growth. There was business creation and record unemployment. The same successes were also current within the Asian American Pacific Islander community, and then that pandemic hit. Even in Guam, we were at 4%. United States was at, I think, three and a half percent, but what President Trump did, he provided rapid and unprecedented support. The Island of Guam in itself got a billion dollars in federal assistance.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:54:59)
Now, the White House also provided more than half a million African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities comprehensive, direct updates on preparedness, response, and mitigation. The president directed the White House opportunity and revitalization council to focus on the underserved communities impacted by the virus. President signed the legislation that provided $60 billion in loans under the paycheck protection program and targeted a lot of it to support the minority and disadvantaged communities.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:55:36)
US department of education temporarily delayed student loan repayment and held interest rates to zero. Thank goodness, I got six kids, and by the way, the last one just graduated two weeks ago. So, I saw for her, there was a break and she doesn’t have to make her first payment. You don’t have to worry about it this year. So, they also provided $6 billion in emergency assistance to the students. The president signed into law $1 billion in funding for historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and many other minority-serving institutions that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:56:15)
The president signed into law $3.5 billion to keep the childcare centers open for low-income families and for the frontline workers. The president halted evictions on federal government-assisted housing and temporally prevented the foreclosures for some of those FHA insured mortgages. So, the president’s record is clear when it comes to assisting the minority communities and he continues to deliver results in a way, which I believe will benefit all AAPI communities throughout our nation. With him re-elected, it’ll just get better.
Amna Nawaz: (01:56:50)
Governor Calvo, we thank you for that. We also thank May yer Thao for her question. I want to play for you one more question. This one’s going to come via video. It was submitted from Munir Meghjani. He’s a resident of Georgia. I believe we have that video ready now, and here is Munir’s question.
Munir Meghjani: (01:57:08)
Hi. My name is Munir Meghjani. I’m a commercial real estate agent and entrepreneur based out of Atlanta, Georgia. My parents immigrated from India and Pakistan before I had even learned to walk in hopes of a better future for me. They made sacrifices, tearing away from their family and loved ones, and swallowed their pride and education, working physically excruciating and minimum wage jobs. While this is my story, the truth is this is not a unique one. It’s the story of every immigrant who makes unbelievable sacrifices, not for themselves, but for the generations to come. We were still lucky. I had my parents nearby.
Munir Meghjani: (01:57:57)
As I look at what’s going on at the border, my heart aches for those families being torn apart. For Asian Americans in the United States, DACA, family reunification, work visas, and deportation are all very critical issues. Things to the sacrifices made by my parents and all of those who came before them, I get to stand here today and ask you, not only on behalf of my family but for all who’ve had a similar journey, what immigration policies will you champion and what laws will you change that are currently separating American families? And will these be part of your first 100-day priorities? Thank you, and good luck.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:58:50)
I’m going to answer it and I’m going to touch on several topics, but I want to touch on the most controversial one first, and then I’ll get into DACA, and that’s the wall. It has caused a lot of controversy in the United States, this building a wall on American’s Southern border. Now, would you believe that what happens between Mexico and the United States, that Mexican American border has a profound impact on places such as Guam, such as the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana, such as Hawaii? You’re probably wondering to yourself, “How can this be? How can something that’s happening in a desert somewhere in the Southwest, have anything to do with Guam or the islands?” But it does. And there’s thousands and thousands of our families here in the islands that are suffering as a result of what is happening, destroying lives.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (01:59:52)
I’ll tell you a simple reason why. It’s because millions and millions of dollars’ worth of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine are transported. It’s crazy hard to believe, but usually through the postal service or through shipping companies that are American flagged, out to our places. You know where they come from? Places such as California, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado. Now, those American states aren’t where these deadly drugs are produced. All these drugs for years have come through those porous borders. They come North, they hit those states, and they pollute the families in those states, and then they’re sent to Guam. This year alone, officers … and for you folks that want to defund customs and border patrol, they seized 450,000 pounds of drugs. That includes 92,000 pounds of crystal meth. Some of that shit could have come to Guam. Over 1000 pounds of fentanyl, nearly 3000 pounds of heroin, and almost 25,000 pounds of cocaine.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (02:00:57)
We had cocaine floating in a barrel here in Guam. Thank you, and I don’t know what state that was sent from. Border officers have arrested and apprehended thousands of criminals at the border including members of the MS-13 gang. So, you see, President Trump is committed to securing our borders from drugs, gangs, and human trafficking. Now, some of the issues about workplace abuse, well, they come because of undocumented immigrants that snuck through and that are forced into prostitution or slave labor by bad businesses. So, putting a wall up will solve a lot of those issues. President Trump is committed to reform, and he will prioritize bringing in highly skilled workers to grow our nation, but at the same time, he wants to protect American jobs. You know what’s interesting? I recall as governor that we had a skilled labor shortage and Guam’s only got 8% of our workforce in construction.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (02:01:59)
We got about a billion dollars in just military construction a year for the next three years. We don’t have enough workers. We graduate maybe a hundred out of our schools a year, but that’s not enough to fill the demand. So, it was on the Obama administration that a radical 180-degree turn was on H2s and H1s. So, 25% of our construction workforce was wiped out, kicked out of Guam. What it did was made the prices of housing go up by a $100,000. Of course, for the budgets of the military, they weren’t going to keep the $8.6 billion budget for the movement of marines from Okinawa to Guam. That was an act of the Obama administration. Under President Trump, there’s been actually some flexibility. Based on an understanding that there was a need to fill, some of it is because of the military-strategic importance of Guam, but we’ve got those levels of H2 workers back to what they were.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (02:02:56)
Now, again, I tell you, you heard about the pause and you know what, I can understand it. From the perspective of President Trump, Guam was at 4% before. America was at 3 and a half, but now we’re at 13.5% unemployment. The story changes, at least temporarily. That’s why President Trump’s first and foremost and highest commitment is making sure that all of you … you talked about people that need a job, all Americans get their jobs first. Let’s get back to full employment, then we can move forward in pushing on expanding for work visas. Now, I want to go to-
Amna Nawaz: (02:03:38)
If I may, I apologize for the interruption, sir. I do you want to be respectful of your time and our audiences, but just to put a finer point and follow up on what Munir was asking, you mentioned the pause on those visas, the non-immigrant work visas. We should note that Asian Americans were disproportionately affected by the president’s executive order. So, if you could very briefly just address the thousands of Asian American families who were affected by that, who will either be forced to leave or be forced to stay separated as a family. As a result of the president’s decision, what would you say to them?
Eddie Baza Calvo: (02:04:11)
Yeah. I will reiterate, the president’s number one goal is to move and get merit-based immigration. We need skills in this nation. So, he’s been committed to getting that back. So, there has been a pause and again, there is a guarantee that once we get full employment back, they will continue. The president was very clear is it’s not about the immigrants. They’re important, but his first and foremost priority is getting Americans back to work. Whether it’s Indian American, whether it’s Chinese American, Filipino American, or Chamorro American, his first priority is getting these thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people that are currently unemployed, these Americans back to work. So, I hope I have time now to move on DACA, but-
Amna Nawaz: (02:05:04)
Actually, sir, I apologize. We will have to leave it there. I know we’ve spent a lot of time on a lot of different topics, but we do appreciate you being here with us today and taking the time to take these questions and provide us with answers. That’s Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, governor of Guam. Thank you for waking up early to be with us today, sir. We appreciate it.
Eddie Baza Calvo: (02:05:21)
Amna Nawaz: (02:05:24)
Thank you so much. Now, to all of you still with us, thanks for remaining here. We do want to bring back in Christine Chen. She’s executive director of APIAVote, and she’s back with a very special message. Christine?
Christine Chen: (02:05:36)
Thank you to Amna Nawaz and Vicky Nguyen for a wonderful job of moderating our program and sharing your expertise. Also, many thanks to our sponsors, ARP, Comcast, and Nielsen for supporting not only this presidential town hall but APIAVote and the community year-round.
Christine Chen: (02:05:54)
We must also thank all those behind the scenes, producer [inaudible 00:23:57], showrunner [inaudible 02:05:58], [inaudible 00:24:00], and ACA Video. Thank you to the APIAVote staff who worked many long hours, not only on the presidential town hall and the National Asian American Pacific Islander Leadership Summit. Our interns, you have great design skills and many more of our volunteers. We also like to thank all of you who have joined us. Speaking of which, we have some of the results of the survey. We actually had over 36 States watching and taking our survey, with a core of them coming from California. We have about 62% male and 40% female, and 95% of all our attendees are registered to vote, which is amazing. Our viewership age is actually spread out evenly among the ages 18 to 65, and out of all our registered viewers, 96% plan to vote as 64% will vote by mail this year.
Christine Chen: (02:06:52)
The power is actually in your hands, ladies and gentlemen. Each and every one of you has the most influence over your friends and family. You can take action to ensure that APIs get counted this year and are heard loud and clear. There are three things you can do today. Start with your inner circle of friends and family, and use this town hall to start the conversation with them about what issues are important to them and help them connect the dots to the importance of casting that vote in November for candidates aligned to their values. Make sure they are registered. It is as easy as texting API to 788683. That is once again, texts AAPI to 788683. Share this text to five of your friends right now, and remember, tomorrow APIAVote and their network of community organizations and partners are hosting regional convenings on Sunday.
Christine Chen: (02:07:49)
You can learn how to meet others who are interested in organizing the vote in your own backyard. All next week. The national API leadership summit will feature sessions that will help provide you with the tools to get out the vote This November. Come join us online and be empowered to get engaged even further. Remember, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the self-response phase of the U.S. Census has been extended to October 31st. There’s still time to take the census and get counted. We cannot assume that everyone you know has completed the census or their household and that they’ve registered and are ready to cast that vote as well. So, be there to actually help them figure out that process. With that, we wish you and your friends and family well, and with this last reminder about taking the census. Thank you.
Speaker 32: (02:08:40)
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts everyone living in the United States, people like Mr. Lee. It doesn’t matter whether they are students, service members, renters, employees, have green cards, work visas, are undocumented, have lived here a long time, or moved here recently, or temporarily. Regardless of their age, height, income, or ethnicities, they all count. We all have unique stories that are a part of this great nation. We need to be counted, recognized as a community to have our say in how over $1.5 trillion a year in public funding is distributed for hospitals, schools, and roads for the next generation and beyond. Starting April 1st, it’s time to do your part. Fill out the census.
Vicky Nguyen: (02:09:39)
All right, everyone. With catchy trends and fun videos, you all know TikTok is the hot new platform that young voters have taken by storm. We asked these voters to participate in our TikTok video competition to help get out the vote as a lead up to our town hall, and now we’re ready to announce the videos from our top three winners.
Speaker 33: (02:10:08)
[ Singing 02:10:19].
Speaker 34: (02:10:44)
Girl don’t do it. It’s not worth it. I’m not going to do it girl. I was just thinking about it. I’m not going to do it. I did it.
Amna Nawaz: (02:11:02)
Those were incredible. Can we just agree, Vicky? I will never make a TikTok video as good as any of those.
Vicky Nguyen: (02:11:05)
They did a fantastic job and it was fun to see. And it’s fun to see the young Asian American voters getting energized.
Amna Nawaz: (02:11:13)
Absolutely. Hey, we just want to take a minute now to thank everybody out there for joining us today. Thank you to those TikTok videos for sure, but thank you also, again, to the campaigns for recognizing the importance of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Let’s not forget, everybody, that this year in presidential battleground races in states and local races across the country, Asian American Pacific Islander voters are poised to play a pivotal role in the 2020 election. So, I just want to say it has been my honor to serve as one of your moderators today. Remember, our job as journalists is to make sure you have the information to feel empowered, to go participate in our democracy. It’s my sincere hope that we were able to do that today. So, thank you for that. Vicky?
Vicky Nguyen: (02:11:57)
Amna, as we all know, the events of the past few weeks have really underscored there’s been a formidable shift in priorities with social and racial justice taking center stage for so many of us, along with the sense that all voices are now demanding to be heard. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are more forcefully exerting themselves throughout culture and society. We certainly hope that you’ve been inspired to use your voice in these months prior to the election. Remember, our collective voices matter. I’m Vicky Nguyen. On behalf of Amna and APIAVote, we would like to extend a huge thank you to Vice President Biden, Governor Calvo, and of course, all of you for joining us today.