WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today formalized its longstanding support for Barack Obama with an official endorsement of the Obama-Biden campaign for the Presidency of the United States.
“The Armenian National Committee of America is proud today to formally announce our support for Barack Obama – whom we endorsed this January in the Democratic Primary and have energetically backed with sustained, grassroots voter mobilization for the past nine months,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. “Based on Senator Obama’s strong record in office, his bold statements as a candidate, and our judgment as to the types of policies he will pursue as President, we believe that an Obama-Biden Administration would be far better positioned than a McCain-Palin one to reflect the views and values of the Armenian American community.”
Barack Obama: The Choice for Change
In a powerful statement, issued on January 20th, Senator Obama voiced his strong support for passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution and pledged that, as President, he would recognize the Armenian Genocide. The Presidential hopeful also reaffirmed his support for a strong “U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy.” Unlike other Democratic candidates, he also pledged to “promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.”
The key elements of the Obama record that led to the ANCA endorsement include the following:
* Public criticism of the Bush Administration for firing former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans over his truthful remarks recognizing the Armenian Genocide. He has publicly asserted that, “An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy.”
* Strong support for the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution currently before Congress, in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs.
* A written pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as President, clearly spelling out his “firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable.”
* A commitment to ending the cycle of genocide. He has said, on the record, that, “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.”
* Letters to President Bush urging him to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide and a record of defending that position, when challenged. While visiting Azerbaijan in August 2005, in response to media inquiries about why he signed these letters, Senator Obama publicly defended his decision by stating that the Armenian Genocide was a historical fact.
* Commitment to promoting Armenia’s security “by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades.”
* Support for “a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.”
Joe Biden: Leading Senate Advocate on Armenian American Concerns
For over three decades, Vice-Presidential Nominee Senator Joe Biden has been a voice of moral clarity on issues of concern to the Armenian American community including:
* Support for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, dating back to his work with Senator Bob Dole to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.J.Res.212) in 1990, and to promote stronger U.S.-Armenia relations.
* Consistent support for Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, adopted in 1992, which restricted U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan due to its ongoing blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
* Leadership in pressing the Administration to explain its firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans and ensuring that future nominees as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia and Turkey do not deny the Armenian Genocide.
The McCain–Palin Campaign:
Throughout the primary and general election cycles, the ANCA invited all of the major candidates – including Senator McCain – to share their views on Armenian Americans issues and to comment on both the growing relationship between the U.S. and Armenian governments and the enduring bonds between the American and Armenian peoples.
Senator McCain, in a letter to the ANCA this February and a follow up open-letter to Armenian Americans in September of this year, formally asked for the support of Armenian American voters, but failed, in both instances, to outline his stands on core Armenian American issues. In his letters, the Arizona Senator praised the Armenian American contribution to American society, and Armenia’s contribution to Coalition operations in Iraq and NATO peacekeeping in Kosovo, but remained silent on Nagorno Karabagh, the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, U.S. aid to Armenia, and the broader issue of U.S.-Armenia relations. He did, as he has done over the years, echo the Bush Administration’s practice of employing euphemistic language such as “terrible tragedy” to avoid mentioning the Armenian Genocide by its proper name.
Senator McCain has, throughout his tenure in the Congress, largely opposed or was passively indifferent to a broad array of Armenian American issues. As recently as October of last year, Senator McCain publicly opposed Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In 1999, he voted against restricting U.S. aid to Azerbaijan over its blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. He voted against Senator Bob Dole’s Armenian Genocide Resolution in 1990. Governor Sarah Palin has no record on Armenian American concerns.
The Armenian American Vote:
Armenian Americans, in key battleground states and throughout the country, represent a motivated and highly networked constituency of more than one and a half million citizens. The ANCA mobilizes Armenian American voters through a network of over 50 local chapters and a diverse array of affiliates, civic advocates, and supporters nationwide. ANCA mailings reach over a quarter of a million homes and, with the addition of internet outreach, updates and action alerts, reach well over 350,000 households. The ANCA website, which features election coverage from an Armenian American point of view, attracts over 100,000 unique visits a month. The ANCA also has broad reach to Armenian American voters via a sophisticated media operation of newspapers, regional cable shows, satellite TV, blogs, and internet news sites.
Along with its presidential endorsement, the ANCA reminds Armenian Americans that their ability to impact policy-level decision-making depends, first and foremost, on the continued expansion of advocacy efforts at all levels of government. The ANCA’s Congressional endorsements represent an important element of this process by providing Armenian American voters with the information they need to solidify the strong, bipartisan support our community enjoys in Congress.
ANCA Presidential endorsements are offered against the backdrop of several decades of disappointing experiences, during which Presidents, while running for office, have affirmed the Armenian Genocide to win hearts and minds among Armenian American voters, only to retreat from this recognition once in the White House and then, in the case of each of the past four administrations, to aggressively pressure the U.S. Congress from properly commemorating the very same crime against humanity they once condemned as candidates.
As always, the ANCA welcomes feedback on its service to the Armenian American community. Please forward your thoughts and suggestions about the 2008 Presidential election by email to email@example.com.
Read Senator Obama’s pledge on Armenian Americans on his official website.
Read a 2-page summary of Senators Obama and Biden’s record of support for Armenian American issues.
Read a 2-page listing of the Bush-Cheney’s opposition to Armenian American issues.
View/print an Obama/McCain comparison one-page.
Visit www.armeniansforobama.com for more information on Armenians for Obama.
View Samantha Power’s YouTube video in support of Senator Obama
Read Sen. John McCain’s Letters to the Armenian Community.