Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley urged Asian American voters to support Republican candidates in the upcoming November election during a rally at a popular South Asian shopping center outside Atlanta Friday.
Haley, who is among the highest profile Asian American Republicans, was on hand to lend support to her party’s candidate for U.S. Senate, Herschel Walker. Walker is in a tight race against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who flipped the seat in 2020 thanks in part to record turnout among Asian American voters.
In her speech, Haley acknowledged that the party could do better in its outreach to the community.
“Asian Americans have not elected Republicans because Republicans have not talked to Asian Americans,” Haley said. “Herschel Walker wanted you to know that he is there for you.”
Warnock, the incumbent, is seeking to preserve the multiracial coalition that helped elect him. He recently headlined a rally for Asian Americans in Duluth.
University of Georgia political scientist Audrey Haynes said the candidates’ turn toward courting specific ethnic groups demonstrates just how competitive the race has become.
“When elections are close, particularly in state-wide elections, where no amount of gerrymandering can counter demographic change, every vote counts,” she said. “Appealing to groups that have at times voted in larger numbers for the opposition party is a part of the process.”
In a 15-minute speech to a crowd of about 200 outside Global Mall in Norcross, Walker discussed racial harmony and his faith in God.
“It don’t matter about your color,” Walker said from a podium in the parking lot. “What matters is the content of your character … We’re on this unity bus trying to bring people together because a house divided cannot stand.”
He also touted his support for law enforcement and the military and his socially conservative values, including his opposition to transgender rights.
“A man can’t get pregnant,” Walker said. “I do know what a woman is.”
Walker and Haley were joined by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who is running for reelection.
The event was billed as a “Republican Rally for the Indian American Community” organized by 50-year-old entrepreneur Sunil Savili from Johns Creek. Savili said the occasion was a chance for Asian American voices to be heard.
“As our population [is] increasing, our footprint [is] increasing, our contribution to the country [is] increasing — this is a time where our representation has to be there,” Savili said.
His comments were echoed by many Asian Americans in attendance, who cited inflation and public safety as top priorities.
“Groceries going up, gas going up,” said Louis Tseng, 51, of Duluth, a logistics and aviation executive. “Inflation and defund the police — we worry about a lot of those things.”
Bhupendra Darji, a financial advisor from Duluth, said the Republican party represents the interests of Asian Americans, who he described as “hands-on business people.”
“The party itself supports them — all businesses, doesn’t matter what kind it is,” Darji said. “Asians are into business … and they need some political support as well.”
Haley repeatedly hit on the theme of fiscal responsibility in her speech, painting Democrats as wasteful spenders who gave billions to “federal inmates” and “illegal immigrants.”
“They don’t understand the value of a dollar and we continue to see it,” Haley said.