by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LOS ANGELES – With their candidate practically securing the Democratic Presidential nomination, FilAm supporters of Barack Obama are gearing up for their next task – the White House.
“This [Presidential] race isn’t over,” said Daniel Lamila, a member of the Filipino-Americans for Barack Obama organization. “[Senator John] McCain is a very formidable candidate. We are not going to take him for granted.”
The Filipino-Americans for Barack Obama organization is a dedicated group of about 100 FilAms in the Greater Los Angeles County area all supporting Obama as the next President of the United States, according to Lamila.
The core group meets once or twice a week at a local member’s home to organize and think of creative ways to get more FilAms to turnout and vote for the Illinois senator. Lamila campaigned for Obama during the California primary. He said when he distributed flyers to FilAms, their reaction was mostly positive.
“Let’s not forget he grew up in Hawaii among the Filipino community,” said Lamila. “He played basketball with Filipinos before he left for Indonesia. He was surrounded by the Filipino customs and our tradition when he was living in Hawaii, not many people realized that. He could only help us and our cause.”
American Coalition of Filipino Veterans Executive Director Eric Lachica said that Obama’s victory adds fuel to the Filipino WWII Veterans Equity Act.
“It adds a lot to the Equity fire,” said Lachica, a non-partisan. “Obama’s victory bodes well for FilAms. He’s supported the bill from day 1 and helped co-sponsor S. 1315 in the Senate.”
But the FilAms for Obama organization campaigning for the FilAm vote is not entirely their focus. They want everybody who can vote for their man.
“It’s not a question of what a Barack Obama country can do for you,” said Lamila referring to John F. Kennedy’s most famous quote. “The question is what you can do for your country.
Lamila cites Obama’s leadership qualities and stances on the economy, healthcare, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and senior citizen issues as the main reasons they are backing the Illinois Senator.
He added that Obama’s historical nomination changes the political landscape. Something he said is much needed after the George Bush’s reign.
“[His nomination] is also a good sign for the younger generation,” he said. “If you are a minority in this country you can be President.”
“There are so many people turned off by the George Bush presidency,” added Lamila. “I think Obama can regain that trust and confidence in the government again.”
The group is going to start grassroots campaigning within the next few days, he said. House to house, door-to-door visits, phone banking and distributing flyers in certain targeted areas are among some of the activities the group will partake in the next few months.
“We’re going to try and do our best to convince people that he’s the best candidate for the job,” he added. “He has all the skills and qualifications.”
Last Tuesday, Obama announced that he became the first African-American Democratic Presidential nominee after racking up the required number of delegates. Meanwhile, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was rumored to be campaigning to be his running mate.
In front of a rowdy crowd in St. Paul, Minnesota, Obama made his first speech after winning the grueling, long-standing Democratic primary over Clinton.
“Thousands of miles have been traveled,” he said.
“Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.”
“Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.”
The 46-year-old Obama has been leading over Clinton for the past several months and with more Democratic political backers jumping off Clinton’s ship to favor Obama. It was only a matter of time before he clinched the party’s nomination. He needed 2,118 delegates but barely surpassed that total to secure the victory last night.
According to the Associated Press, Obama called Clinton Tuesday night to congratulate her on the South Dakota win and got her voicemail. Rumors are that Clinton will concede and bow out of the race by Saturday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Clinton was on a conference call with New York legislators, when she was asked whether she was open to the idea of running as Vice-President.
“I am open to it,” Clinton replied, if it would help the party’s prospects in November, said the participant, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the call was a private matter.
The Clinton campaign website confirmed the conversation. In a press release later in the day it said Clinton “would do whatever she could to ensure that Democrats take the White House back and defeat John McCain.”
As for whether Lamila and other Obama supporters would like to see Clinton as Obama’s running mate, Lamila said, “Our purpose is to win. If that is one way to win the election, let’s do it. If she could be of help I’m all for it. The key is winning the presidency.”