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3 Indian-Americans roped in Obama campaign team

February 24, 2012 19:15 IST
Eying the about 3 million Indian-origin voters, three well-known members of the community -- actor Kalpen Modi, California Attorney General, Kamla Harris and Sai Iyer, who served as a White House intern in 2011 - have been roped in for the Obama Campaign.

The three Indian Americans were among the list of 35 campaign co-chairs, who will act as key surrogates and ambassadors in the run up to the November 6 presidential polls in which incumbent Barack Obama is seeking re-election.

"The president's national co-chairs will be tremendous assets on the ground as we build the biggest grassroots campaign in history," Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina said in a statement. "They each share the President's vision for a future where every American can have a fair shot at success, where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded," Messina said.

An eminent Hollywood actor, Kalpen Modi is the former White House associate director for the office of public engagement. Kamala Harris is the powerful Attorney General of California and Sai Iyer is a student at the Virginia Commonwealth University and OFA (Obama For America) volunteer leader from Virginia.

Some of the eminent co-chairs include former Republican senator Lincoln Chafee (now an independent serving as Rhode Island governor), former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, former White House chiefs of staff Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley, Caroline Kennedy, business executive Penny Pritzker, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese and actress Eva Longoria, among others.  "As a longtime supporter of Barack Obama, I am honoured to serve as a national co-chair for Obama for America," Harris said.

"Since taking office, the president has worked tirelessly to provide relief for struggling middle-class families and to lay a foundation for a strong economy that's built to last," she said. "The president's leadership and vision for the future will continue to move the country forward, rather than taking us back to the failed policies of the past," Harris added.

California's 32nd Attorney General, Harris is the first woman, African-American and also the first South Asian to hold the office in the history of California. Harris previously served two terms as District Attorney in San Francisco. Iyer is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, studying International Studies, Religious Studies, and Mass Communications.

In 2008, he served as an organising fellow with Obama for America in Richmond and in 2011 served as a White House intern in the department of management and administration. Next year, Iyer will be an English teacher in Detroit, Michigan with Teach for America. "He is deeply passionate about public service and aspires to have a career where he can help make upward mobility a reality for all Americans," the Obama campaign said.

The former associate director of the White House office of public engagement, having served in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2011, Modi has been a well-recognised actor and producer in television and film since the late 1990s, and has been an Adjunct Lecturer in Sociology, Film, and Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

During the 2008 campaign, Modi campaigned in 26 states for Barack Obama and served on the National Arts Policy Committee.

As part of his duties at the White House, Modi was the president's liaison to young Americans, working on issues ranging from youth entrepreneurship & employment, to education and DADT repeal. In his duties as Liaison to Asian American & Pacific Islander communities, he worked on creating the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.  He also worked on arts outreach, focusing on cultural diplomacy and arts education.

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