Hillary Clinton drew back to her mother’s “roots” during a visit to the Golden State’s San Gabriel Valley—where her mother attended school—this week. As part of her fundraising tour, Clinton made a specific appeal to the Asian American community during a speech at the San Gabriel Hilton.
“When I think about this part of California, the first thing I think about is my mom, and how kind people were to her when her own family was not,” Clinton said, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The Thursday afternoon event was hosted by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and was the official launch of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary.
In her speech, Clinton described how her own mother, Dorothy Rodham, struggled to make it as a teenager after she and her sister were “rejected” from their parents’ home in Chicago and how she started off working as a maid at the age of 14 to make ends meet.
The slow moving line outside the San Gabriel Hilton to see Hillary speak pic.twitter.com/pgtR8FU6SR
— Javier Panzar (@jpanzar) January 7, 2016
This is Clinton’s sixth tour to the Golden State since officially declaring her candidacy last spring. As America’s fastest-growing minority group, and among the best-educated and highest earners, Asian-Americans are a key constituent base that is up for grabs by either political party at this point.
Clinton also touched upon immigration reform, affordable access to higher education, and voting rights, while taking a nameless swipe at Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump over his strong stance against illegal immigration. Trump has also been very vocal about seeking to instill a stronger vetting process when accepting immigrants from Muslims countries in light of the plethora of recent terrorist attacks in the Western world, which have been linked to the Islamic State.
Reactions to Clinton’s speech were mixed.
Two Asian-American sisters, hailing from a Filipino background, gave the Daily News two opposing reactions to her talk. While one of the sisters said she was happy Clinton touched upon issues like immigration, family, and jobs, her older sister said she had hoped the Democratic presidential frontrunner would have gone into the Asian-American experience in greater detail. “This is the launch of her Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) effort in her campaign. So I was hoping to hear more from her about how do we move past the language barriers in this community and the different cultures,” Diana Rongavilla, 21, told the Daily News. She said, despite Clinton’s appeal to those in attendance, Thursday’s event did not necessarily solidify her chances at garnering the votes of those in attendance.
Statistics in the Asian & Pacific Islanders American Vote show that 71 percent of AAPI voters, “many of whom showed no party affiliation,” supported President Barack Obama in 2012. And while nearly half of AAP voters identify as either independent or undecided, a report by Bloomberg View indicates that in 2014, “almost half of Asian-Americans—49 percent—supported the Republican candidate” during national exit polling of voters in House races.