At Hindu-American rally, Trump pitches India and U.S. as ‘best friends’

Source: The Washington Post

By Max Bearak

This was a Donald Trump rally like no other.

On the same day that the Republican presidential nominee told a mostly white crowd in Maine that he would unite the United States under “one god,” he appeared in front of a crowd of thousands of people of Indian extraction and lit a Hindu ceremonial candle.

“I am a big fan of Hindu and a big fan of India,” he said, to loud cheers from a crowd composed of many American citizens, but also many, who are at various stages along the path to citizenship or just visiting from India.

The rally, in Edison, N.J., was organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition, whose founder, Shalabh Kumar, is one of Trump’s biggest fundraisers. Trump repaid Kumar’s generosity with a remarkably warm speech toward Hindus and India in which he said the two nations would be “best friends.”

“There won’t be any relationship more important to us,” said Trump.

At the end of a week in which Trump faced a seemingly ever-growing number of sexual assault allegations, the rally in New Jersey provided a welcome diversion. The nominee stuck entirely to praise for India and its prime minister, Narendra Modi, as well as his standard policy positions, which he read from a teleprompter.

In a statement days before the rally, Kumar defended Trump against the allegations, saying, “The Hindu and Indian people do not abandon their friends in times of crisis. With India and Pakistan on the brink of war, and lives at stake in the global war on terror, Mr. Trump is the president we need at this time.”

Hindu supporters of Trump at the event said they find common ground with the candidate on his perceived toughness against “radical Islamic terror,” as well as promises of low taxes. On the other hand, Trump has often said he would curtail immigration to the United States, which seemed at odds in a room filled with immigrants and those hoping to become Americans. The organizers printed hundreds of signs for attendees to hold, including many that said “Trump for faster green cards.”

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