GOP White House hopeful calls Prime Minister Modi a “great man” at anti-terror rally in New Jersey
By Geeta Goindi
Edison, New Jersey, October 15, 2016 – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has pledged that India-US ties will reach a new high if he wins the election.
Addressing a sizable gathering at the spacious New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison, a town that boasts one of the largest Indian populations in the state, he said, “Under a Trump administration, we are going to become even better friends. In fact, I’ll take the word ‘even’ out because we are going to be best friends. There won’t be any relationship more important to us”, he vowed.
“We are going to have a phenomenal future together”, he predicted. “India is the world’s largest democracy”, he said, with much admiration, adding it “is a natural ally of the US”.
Trump was the keynote speaker, Saturday, at an anti-terror rally organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC). The event was also touted as a Dussehra celebration and featured booths for pre-Diwali shopping which explains the makeup of the audience.
To this crowd, Trump declared in his customary grandiloquent style: “I am a big fan of Hindu and I am a big fan of India. Big, big fan. Let me start by stating right up front that if I’m elected president, the Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in the White House. That I can guarantee you”.
New Jersey is not a battleground state in the upcoming election, nevertheless, Trump made it a point to attend what he described as a “historic event” at the Convention Center. He is the first presidential candidate to address an Indian-American audience in this election season and was clearly pleased with the “great crowd” and “great energy”. The rally must have come as a balm for him given the barrage of attacks he is facing. Indian-Americans are so warm and welcoming!
“There is a lot of love in this room”, he noted. The adulation was mutual. Members of the audience stood on chairs clamoring to take his photo and held up signs that read: ‘Trump for Hindu Americans’ and ‘Trump Great for India’.
Referring to the fact that he is involved in two massive developments in Mumbai and Pune which are “very successful” and with “wonderful partners”, the GOP presidential hopeful told the gathering, “I became involved because I have great confidence in India. Incredible people and an incredible country. I was there nineteen months ago. I look forward to going back many, many times. Generations of Indian and Hindu Americans have strengthened our country, and strengthened it like few people could ever believe. Your values of hard work, education and enterprise have truly enriched our nation and we will be celebrating a Trump administration together”.
He continued to gush, “Indian-Americans have the highest rate of entrepreneurship and college graduation in our country”.
The Republican presidential nominee hailed Prime Minister Modi as a great leader. “I look forward to working with Prime Minister Modi who has been very energetic in reforming India’s bureaucracy”, he told the Edison crowd. “Great man! I applaud him for doing so and I look forward to doing some serious bureaucratic trimming right here in the United States. Believe me, we need it also”, he said.
“Your prime minister has been a pro-growth leader for India. He has simplified the tax code and cut taxes. And the economy has gown seven percent a year. Excellent”, he gushed, lamenting, “Our economy is practically not growing at all in the United States”.
The rally was spearheaded by Chicago-based entrepreneur Shalabh Kumar, founder of the RHC, who also serves as Chairman of the Indian American Advisory Council to the Republican Party, and is in the forefront when it comes to supporting Trump for President.
The event began on an auspicious note with the lighting of the traditional ‘diya’ (lamp). It featured a heady mixture of politics and entertainment with Indian actor and dance choreographer Prabhu Deva leadheadlining a rocking concert.
The event was publicized as an anti-terror rally with proceeds benefitting the displaced Kashmiri Pandits in India as well as other victims of terrorism. Kumar told reporters, “Every single dollar of ticket sales, sponsor sales goes toward charity for victims of terror all over the world”.
Titled ‘Humanity United Against Terror’, the rally struck a chord with members of the Indian-American community. Polls show that the majority (about 70 percent) of Indian-Americans do not support Trump, but favor his tough-on-terror stand.
“We can’t have prosperity without security and that is why we appreciate the great friend India has been to the United States in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism”, Trump said, in his keynote address. “India has seen first-hand the brutality of terrorism and cross-border violence including the attacks in Mumbai which is a place that I love. It’s a place that I understand”.
He called the attack on the Indian Parliament “absolutely outrageous and terrible. We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism”, he underscored. “When I’m president, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with India in sharing intelligence and keeping our people safe, mutually. This is so important in the age of ISIS”, he said.
“India is a key strategic ally (of the US) and there is nothing like the relationship that we will have. I look forward to deepening the military and diplomatic cooperation that is the shared interest of both countries”.
He concluded his speech with “We love the Hindus. We love India”.
Trump was applauded even as his poll numbers continue to drop in the wake of an ‘Access Hollywood’ video from 2005 in which he is seen disparaging women. His lewd comments have shocked the nation, as have allegations of sexual misconduct made by a number of women against him, following the release of the damaging video.
With some three weeks to go before election day on November 8, women voters may very well be instrumental in determining the outcome of the race for the White House.