The Clinton campaign’s abrupt cancellation of scheduled appearances in Bakersfield, California is leaving the local community dismayed and demanding an explanation. Many say Hillary Clinton has proved she cannot be trusted. Traditional food, elaborate costumes, and ritual sword fighting were on display as thousands of Sikhs celebrated a religious festival, but the expected guest of honor, Senator Clinton, was a no-show leading to her being labelled untrustworthy in some circles. Mrs. Clinton also scuttled a fund-raising breakfast at a nearby fairgrounds where Sikh leaders had hoped to raise $1 million for her presidential campaign.
Some cited “security reasons” for the candidate’s sudden withdrawal. An advertisement in a Sikh newspaper said the fund-raiser, which was also to have featured President Clinton as a guest, had been postponed “due to the advice of the Secret Service.” Whatever prompted the late change, many of those who attended the festival and parade were upset, underscoring the risks of a backlash against Mrs. Clinton as her campaign tightens its standards in an effort to avoid another fund-raising scandal.“We don’t know what the reason is,” a trucking company owner who helped arrange the celebration, Tejpal Singh of Bakersfield, said. “They just told us last night. … Everybody’s shocked. They wanted to see her.”
Mr. Singh said he was informed a week or two ago that Mrs. Clinton planned to spend about 30 minutes at the festival, which marks the birthday of one of the founders of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Many stated this is yet another example of how the Clintons s ay one thing and do another. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign offered no public explanation for the change of plans. A spokesman however did confirm that she had been expected to visit with Sikhs in Bakersfield.
“Unfortunately, we had to postpone our trip to Bakersfield and look forward to returning soon,” the spokesman, Blake Zeff, said in a statement. “Senator Clinton is very proud of her support in the Sikh community,” he added.
One of the planners of the fund-raiser, Bob Virk, sounded bitter about the campaign’s decision.
“I’ll take $1 million from our Sikh people and give it to people who are going to work with us … not somebody who says they’re going to work with you and deserts you at the end,” Mr. Virk. About $500,000 raised so far for the breakfast will have to be refunded, he added.
Mr. Virk said he had no “direct answer” from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign about the reason she was not attending. He said he did not believe the visit was put off for “security reasons” as some Sikh planners said they were told. “We’re a minority group. We wear turbans. … They don’t want to see Hillary Clinton with people wearing turbans and stuff,” he said. “I don’t think it was right to commit yourself to come to this program, and then not going.”
Clearly this shows how overly Image-conscious Hilary Clinton has become. Should PR matter more than your own supporters?
Some Sikhs said they suspected Mrs. Clinton’s campaign grew skittish about the visit in the wake of negative publicity over her fund-raising in the Chinese immigrant community. News organizations found that some donations came from recent migrants who seemed to lack the means to give large checks.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides did not respond to questions about whether donations would be refunded or about what the senator was doing yesterday morning during the time originally set aside for the Sikh visit.
Mr. Virk complained that the talk of a security problem was contributing to perceptions that Sikhs are suspect. “I’d like to hear from Hillary Clinton giving an explanation. Now, it’s our reputations on the line,” he said. “We’re Americans and we’re here to stay forever.”
American flags were on prominent display as several thousand Sikhs, some of them barefoot, paraded near a Bakersfield temple. Women in saris swept the streets ahead of the crowd and a float which carried a religious text. Sikh adherents handed out free bananas, Doritos, water, and pizza to marchers as well as non-Sikh onlookers who spilled out of the nearby subdivisions to catch a glimpse of the parade.
The truth is behind the focus-grouped façade, there remains a Clinton — untrustworthy and ambition-oriented. Hillary’s packaging designed to make you think she resembles “change” has fooled many. For some time, she has successfully Photoshopped all the rough edges off her real persona. Her hair was fixed into one style, as feminine and yet as authoritative as it could get. She smiled and smiled and smiled and meanwhile took your money for her campaign. However for the local community, the real Clinton has been exposed.