Former Olympic figure skater and huge Hillary Clinton supporter Michelle Kwan stopped in Phoenix this week to help launch a local chapter of Arizona Asian American and Pacific Islanders for Hillary.
Kwan says she first got to know Clinton a few years ago while working as a diplomatic envoy for the U.S. State Department in China – her parents emigrated from Hong Kong, and she speaks fluent Cantonese – but has followed Clinton’s political career for decades.
“She has the experience, the track record [to be President] and ... has been a fighter for her entire adult life – well, that’s who I want in the White House,” Kwan told New Times. Referencing the raucous rhetoric on the Republican campaign trail, Kwan adds that “name calling” is not a good character trait “for the Commander in Chief.”
Clinton, like her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have long supported the AAPI community, Kwan says, and much of her current platform addresses issues of critical importance to all immigrants:
“Across the board, she’s made it easier for immigrants to live the American Dream,” Kwan says, “and she’s been a strong voice for family reunification [and] immigration reform.”
Arizona represents one of the two fastest-growing AAPI populations in the country, and leaders of the community have made a concerted effort this political season to mobilize voters.
One of the legacies of President Barack Obama will be his strategic decision to “pivot,” or put greater focus, on foreign policy with Asian countries, which Clinton helped carry out during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Asked why Clinton is the best candidate to continue this legacy, Kwan tells New Times: “We want to build on the progress we’ve made, and as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton helped build better relations with Asia.”
She smiles and declines to comment on one of Donald Trump’s now-famous political talking points: that the Chinese are “winning” and the U.S. is “losing” in international trade because of the outsourcing of so many American jobs.
After retiring from a long and glorious figure-skating career – she’s a two-time Olympic medalist, five-time World Champion, and nine-time U.S. Champion – Kwan studied international relations and political science at the University of Denver, and later received a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, one of the top-ranked graduate programs for international studies in the country.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, she was asked to be a public diplomacy envoy in China by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and she continued her diplomacy work under President Obama.
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Kwan officially joined the Clinton campaign last June, and has spent a lot of time traveling around the country to advocate for her candidate or working out of the campaign’s Brooklyn office.