Donald Trump speaks Hindi in unusual new campaign ad aimed at Indian-American voters
Set partially to Indian music, one choppily edited, 30-second ad viewed by Business Insider begins with text on the screen wishing viewers "Happy Diwali" on the eve of the Hindu holiday. The ad then cuts to the Republican presidential nominee's speech to a charity concert in New Jersey earlier this month organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition.
The ad prominently features an image of Modi, as well as Trump's take on Modi's popular campaign slogan : "Abki Bar Trump Sarkar" - or, "This Time, We're With Trump's Government."It also includes images of a 2008 terrorist attack in India, as well as a spin on a popular Trump campaign sign that reads, "Great for America - Great for US-India Relationship."
Chicago businessman Shalabh Kumar, the chairman of Trump's Indian-American advisory committee and the founder and head of the Republican Hindu Coalition, told Business Insider in an interview late Wednesday that the ad is running almost 20 times a day nationally on 20 networks - including Zee TV USA, an Hindi cable network, and TV Asia.
"He's the only candidate who has ever spoken Hindi," Kumar said of the ad.
Another senior Trump campaign official confirmed on Wednesday that the ad began airing this week in Indian-American media markets. The official said the campaign contracts many of its television ads through ad-makers familiar with different markets.
After what campaign officials viewed as a successful event in New Jersey earlier this month, the Trump campaign consulted with Kumar about the possibility of running ads targeting specifically Hindu voters.
Kumar told Business Insider that the ad campaign is part of a late strategy to reach Indian-American, and particularly Hindu, voters in three key battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. Kumar said if he can convince 30,000 Indian-Americans in Florida to vote for Trump, they could help decide the election.
Indian-American voters have overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates in recent presidential elections, while Trump's harsh rhetoric on immigration has alienated many nonwhite voters in the 2016 campaign.
But to at least a few close observers of Indian and US politics, the outreach effort has a distinct purpose.
Trump has garnered support among a niche group of Hindu nationalist supporters in India. As The New York Times has reported , the real-estate magnate's promise to aggressively combat Islamic extremists in particular may appeal to some Indian-American voters. Others have suggested that some voters in the demographic may also support the Republican presidential nominee's previous plan to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the US.
"Our values are conservative values. There is an information gap, " Kumar said of Hindu voters. "When it comes time to vote, or support a particular candidate, they identify themselves as minorities. And as minorities, they just vote for Democrats."
Kumar argued that Hindu voters he talked to were swayed by his argument that the Obama administration was too soft on Pakistan, citing the administration's plan to sell F-16 fighter jets to the country earlier this year, among other issues.
"When they come to know all this, they think 'We should support Trump, we should support Republicans,'" Kumar said.