Bill Clinton boosts Indian-American in California

Charismatic former US president Bill Clinton has endorsed Indian-American physician Ami Bera, giving the Democratic Party candidate a big boost in a tight congressional race in Northern California.

Clinton gave a resounding backing to Bera, 45, along with House members John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney and former astronaut Jose Hernandez, at a rally Tuesday in University of California Davis attended by thousands of people.

“The four people I’m on stage with – two in Congress, two trying to get there – each in their own way, they represent the American dream,” Clinton told the crowd. “They prove that a commitment to shared prosperity works better than ‘Trickle down, you’re on your own’.”

He particularly praised migrant-farm-worker-turned-astronaut Jose Hernandez, who is running for a Modesto-area House seat, and first-generation Indian American Bera, who is making a second run for a Sacramento seat – as living the American dream.

Both candidates spoke of how they wouldn’t have been able to succeed without student loan programmes, which Republicans seek to cut.

The former president also referred to the ads that the National Republican Congressional Committee has been running locally against all four Democrats. He called allegations in the ads, that Democrats have cut Medicare benefits, false.

All four races are among 10 in California that are targeted by both major parties as they battle for control of the House.

Bera, whose parents migrated from India 50 years ago, tweeted after the rally: “Honoured to share the stage with Pres. Clinton. It was a great event!”.

“Fired up after President Clinton’s speech? It’s time to volunteer for our grassroots campaign in CA07,” he later tweeted again.

If elected, Bera would be only the third Indian American ever to be a member of the US House of Representatives after Dalip Singh Saund and current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

Besides Bera, four other Indian-Americans – Upendra Chivukula from New Jersey, Ranjit ‘Rikky’ Gill from California; Manan Trivedi from Pennsylvania and Syed Taj from Michigan – are in the fray for the Congress. Except Gill, who is running on Republican Party ticket, all other are Democrats.