THOUGH surveys show that Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are largely rallying behind the Democratic Party and its nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, there remains a segment of the electorate that upholds the conservative values, and is pushing for a second term under President Donald Trump.
The 2020 Asian American Voter Survey in September found that 54% of Asian Americans favor Biden, while 30% would re-elect the current president. Breaking it down by ethnic group, 52% of Filipino Americans back Biden, while 34% call for another four years under Trump, showing the second-highest support among the groups after Vietnamese voters.
To court the fastest-growing electorate, the Trump re-election campaign announced “Asian Pacific Americans for Trump” earlier this summer, which includes six individuals of Filipino descent on the advisory board. Since then, Fil-Am supporters have voluntarily held caravans, outdoor park rallies and virtual events across the country.
Behind the scenes working to help get Trump re-elected is a Filipino American millennial whose job it is to speak on behalf of the campaign and continue honing in on the president’s record of the past four years, as well as the values of the Republican Party.
Like many Fil-Am stories, Ken Farnaso — whose parents are originally from the Philippines — was bound for a medical career, but today, he’s a deputy national press secretary for the incumbent’s re-election bid.
Asian Journal (AJ): As a Filipino American, what drew you to a career in politics and especially toward the Republican Party?
Ken Farnaso (KF): Unlike many people who work in politics and public service, I wasn’t initially drawn to a career in politics. After graduating from N.C. State University with a degree in human biology, I intended to attend medical school; yet, God had other plans.
Instead of making the rounds in the corridors of hospitals, I found myself walking in the halls of the U.S. Capitol and eventually working on the President’s re-election campaign.
Republicans believe in freedom, limited government, and the understanding that the government which governs least, governs best. And so for my parents, who were very aware of the dangers of government overreach, the GOP was a natural home. And now, just one generation removed from poverty, their only child is working for the re-election of the leader of the free world—this could only happen in America.
AJ: How did you get involved with the Trump campaign? What is a “typical day” like as a deputy national press secretary?
KF: I joined the Trump campaign after serving as press secretary for U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) on Capitol Hill. While I consider Sen. Scott a mentor and a friend, this opportunity to help craft the President’s message to voters was an opportunity of a lifetime. On any given day, I’m playing offense, defense, and shaping the narrative by responding to reporter emails, pitching stories, drafting quotes, correcting articles, and speaking on-the-record as a campaign spokesman. Usually, my day ends only after I’ve turned off the lights, closed my eyes, and my phones finally stop buzzing. Being ‘press staff’ means I’m always on call.
AJ: How has the pandemic shifted in how you and the campaign are campaigning/communicating with voters?
KF: Thanks to our early and ongoing investment in data and technological infrastructure that began in 2015, the Trump campaign moved to online campaigning seamlessly. Now, in the final stretch, our campaign has been hitting the road hard meeting voters where they are while still taking the necessary precautions.
AJ: What are some of the campaign’s priorities in reaching out to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, which is the fastest-growing electorate in the country?
KF: Our community has consistently supported candidates who advocate for a safe and strong America, opportunity for a better tomorrow, more money in our pockets, the freedom to pick the best schools for our children, and lower taxes. President Trump has delivered on all of that and more in just 47 months compared to the 47 years Joe Biden has held public office.
AJ: For those who are still undecided, what are key things they should remember from the current administration?
KF: During President Trump’s first term, his unwavering leadership and successful economic policies built an American renaissance and the strongest economy in the world.
Joe Biden’s globalist record would be detrimental for American foreign policy and national security, and after decades of the status quo, President Trump has made it clear that the United States will no longer be taken advantage of by other nations. Next week, the ideals that make us uniquely American will be on the ballot: freedom versus socialism, democracy versus anarchy, and strength versus appeasement.
AJ: What do you wish people knew about the Filipino American electorate?
KF: At the end of the day, I hope that my fellow Filipino Americans will look at this election and consider the true issues facing us this November: do you want to raise your children in a country that allows individuals to make the best decisions for their own lives and those of their family, or do you want a country where the government mandates what citizens can and cannot do? For those who share the same Filipino values passed to me by my parents, I am confident they will see that the only answer is electing Donald Trump for a second term.