Indian American Leaders in Iowa Say They Feel Abandoned by Nikki Haley

Indian American Leaders in Iowa Say They Feel Abandoned by Nikki Haley

Ms. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, has a natural constituency in Iowa’s Indian American voters, but leaders say she has not reached out.

By Jazmine Ulloa

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, leaders with some of the largest and most active Indian and South Asian American associations in the state say Nikki Haley has missed a major opportunity to run up her margins against her opponents: Engaging Indian American voters.

As one of only a handful of Indian American candidates to ever run for president of the United States and the only woman in the Republican primary field, Ms. Haley has inherently generated interest in the Indian and South Asian American communities, and she has a number of prominent Indian American donors. But like other Republicans who have run in the primary this cycle, she has not aggressively courted voters of color and rarely plays up her identity to draw in new voters.

In interviews, former and current leaders of the Indo American PAC-IA, the Iowa Sikh Association and the Indo American Association of Iowa said they began reaching out to the Haley campaign in the late spring and early summer — back when she was still polling in the single digits and was finding little traction in the state. They had hopes of hosting her at their temples, town hall-style events or house parties.

But as of late Tuesday, no such appearances have materialized. The lack of outreach, several said, has been frustrating and alienating for some their membership.

“It really raises the question: Who are you willing to engage in the dialogue?” Prakash Kopparapu, chairman of the Indo American PAC-IA, which centers on encouraging the political participation and civic engagement of Indian Americans in Iowa. “Do you want the support and do you support the engagement of Indian Americans across the board?”

A spokeswoman for the Haley campaign, Olivia Perez-Cubas, offered only that “Nikki is working to lift up all Americans by making America strong and proud.”

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