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Hillary-Trump face-off: Indian-American view from California

By Karishma Saurabh Kalita

Sacramento/San Francisco, Oct 18 (IANS) With just a few weeks to go for the race to the White House to end, it now leaves us with two important questions: will Hillary Clintons strong political background and her stint as the first female presidential candidate in US history act in her favour or will Donald Trumps business skills turn out to be his only saving grace?

Not surprisingly, this confusion has resulted in uncertainty among the huge Indian-American community in California, the third-largest state in the US.

With the latest addition of the leaked video on Republican Donald Trump’s plate, a Fox poll showed Clinton leading Trump by seven percentage points — 49 per cent to 41 per cent. The latest PRRI/Atlantic poll has suggested that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton holds a 49-38 lead.

“This latest video was just unacceptable. Trump has already been slammed over his countless remarks about women but this one just takes the cake. I think he will lose most of the female votes now,” said Vipin Mathew, respiratory therapist at University Medical Centre of Southern Nevada.

The 2005 video released earlier this month showed Trump making lewd remarks about an unidentified married woman with whom he hoped to have sex and boasted about how easy it was to attract women with his celebrity status and even talked about groping women.

Then came another shocker last week: Intemperate remarks against troubled singer Lindsay Lohan.

As a result, nearly half the 331 incumbent Republican senators, House members and governors have condemned the lewd remarks and about 10 per cent have called for him to drop out of the race.

In the past, the Manhattan billionaire has made offensive remarks about women like giving a wife “negotiable assets” is a terrible mistake; women are essentially aesthetically-pleasing objects; sexual assault in the military is totally expected; a woman must be hot to be a journalist; pumping breast milk is “disgusting”; and Hillary would be a bad president because of her husband’s actions.

However, there were still some people who no matter what Trump did during the campaign that began in March are still rooting for him.

According to Indian-origin walnut grower and founder of the Sacramento Valley Walnut Growers Sarabjit (Sarb) Johl, the Republican nominee is just misunderstood and although he is politically inexperienced, “he’s the one with the least damage”.

“This country needs to figure out a way to deal with rising unemployment and the almost stagnant economy and who better than Trump? A leading business magnate of recent times is more capable of handling this situation,” Johl told IANS.

“Being a top businessman, he has the skill to strategise and yes I am confident that he will ‘make America better again’,” Johl added.

Johl has lived in the country since the 1960s and being migrants, “we have adapted to the ways here and this is what Trump exactly wants people to do: Come to this country legally and adjust to the American ways but not as an illegal alien and with criminal motivation”.

But another Indian-origin businessman had a different opinion and said that if Trump comes to power, Mexicans, Hispanics and most of the non-Whites will face a hard time living in this country.

“Trump’s racist comments are very concerning. He is very upfront on what he wants and if he does as he has said he would, then it will be very difficult for non-whites to sustain in this country,” Jaswant Singh Bains, a prune and walnut grower in Sacramento, told IANS.

The Republican nominee during his campaign has called Latinos rapists and criminals; he has planned on building a border wall along the Texas-Mexico border, terming Mexicans as killers; he blamed African-Americans and Hispanics for violence across the nation; and has called for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims.

“Hillary, on the other hand, has had immense political experience as a Secretary of State, a Senator and also the First Lady. Even if she has been accused of numerous things including the email and Benghazi controversy, she is still the lesser of the two evils. She would be more pragmatic; hence I will vote for Hillary,” Bains added.

Clinton has been embroiled in two major controversies: on September 11, 2012, while she was the Secretary of State, four Americans — Ambassador Chris Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods — were killed in an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi in Libya. The second controversy is that she used a private email server to send thousands of mails – some of them top secret, thus compromising security.

As for her health issues, she nearly collapsed during a 9/11 memorial ceremony in September which was later found to be a case of pneumonia.

Hillary won the first presidential debate, the second had no winner and the third and final would take place on October 19 in Las Vegas. The debates, which have turned out to be pure blame games, can still change the face of this race dramatically.

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