VIRGINIA - With US presidential elections just two months away, supporters for both the Democratic and Republican candidates appeared at Cambodian Community Day, in Alexandria, Va., recently, to find more voters.
Both sides campaigned hard on the sidelines of the festival, despite continuous rain throughout the day, with booths set up from both supporters for Democratic incumbent President Barrack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The rain kept crowd numbers low and made it hard to campaign, both sides said.
“It is an opportunity for a lot of Cambodians to come together and celebrate our culture through music, dance, food and a lot of traditional performances,” said Keo Cheo, an Obama supporter and former Senate staff. “And while we are here, we hope that we can engage more Khmer people to come out and vote in the upcoming election.”
Both candidates are engaged in a campaign battle for the White House at a time when the US remains sharply divided on social and economic issues. Many Americans are out of work, and the US remains at war in Afghanistan. Health care and immigration are major issues, as well. US voters will decide on a president on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Both sides have support among Cambodian-Americans.
Koma Bunho, who said he has been a conservative for 20 years, was on welfare for only three months when first arriving in the US. After that, he ignored the advice of some to state on welfare, rather than work as a busboy. The Republican Party, he said, more closely follows his values. The party “would create a lot of jobs for us,” he said. “We want jobs. We don’t want government handouts.”
He also said he supported Romney’s choice of running mate for vice president, US congressman Paul Ryan, an economic conservative. “He is amazing,” Koma Bunho said. “He is a man who will get our economy back on track.”
Seng Peng, an Obama supporter, said the president “really understands our community, not just Cambodians, but the Asian Pacific and Pacific Islanders community.”
Debbie Dime Ling, a Republican campaigner, said she believes most Cambodian Americans are conservative, even though many don’t like to discuss politics. No matter what, she said, “I’ve got a good sense that they understand the importance of this election coming up.”