Against all logic, Donald Trump abruptly announced that he would be holding a rally in New Jersey – a state he is currently losing by 12 points – hosted by an Indian-American conservative group.
The move was widely regarded as a massive waste of time by political strategists and reporters.
Donald Trump is planning to speak at a rally in NEW JERSEY on October 15: https://t.co/wSnLPGNmdU
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) October 7, 2016
And with Trump badly losing in the polls, the idea that he would make this blunder so close to the election was even more baffling.
Aside from rank incompetence, why on earth would he do this?
It turns out, it might just be plain old “pay to play.” The founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition hosting the event is an incredibly wealthy industrialist named Shalabh ‘Shalli’ Kumar who has personally given Donald Trump nearly $1 million. The rally may be him cashing in his chips.
Business Insider covered his huge donation in late July, when he had just announced it:
Kumar, who is the owner of an electronics manufacturing company and has also founded the Republican Hindu Coalition, is donating a whopping $898,000 towards Trump’s victory campaign.
He has already wired $449,000- the maximum amount one can donate to the campaign to the Trump Victory Fund last Saturday and his wife is going to send another round of equal amount to the Trump Victory fundthus totaling a maddening $898,800.
What makes Kumar so eager to get in bed with Trump – a man who has never shown a remote interest in the country of India or Indian Americans in the United States? Famously, Trump has slammed India for stealing jobs from America and has promised Evangelicals that he will make America a Christian nation which worships “one God” – hardly the candidate for a group calling itself a “Hindu coalition” and representing Indian immigrants. The relationship seems odd.
Instead, they have bonded over a shared Islamophobia. Kumar, like Trump, is in favor of banning Muslims from the United States. In fact, he says that it was Trump’s threats towards Muslims that won him over after being initially skeptical.
Praising Trump for his policies on Pakistan and his views on Muslim profiling, Kumar was quoted claiming that “this is just a start- a sort of seed money.”
Reportedly, he was initially worried about the Republican nominee’s views on Indians taking away jobs from Americans but his worries were put to rest when he personally met Trump and clarified that he is convinced Trump sees India as a possible ally and Pakistan as one far from it.
It’s unclear whether Trump could find India or Pakistan on a map, much less speak intelligibly on the decades-old dispute between the two rival neighbors. The only thing Kumar seems to find appealing is the fact that Trump’s ignorance towards Islam can be used to his advantage. Banning Muslim immigrants from places like Pakistan (something Trump has promised to do) would surely help open up India’s geopolitical options.
For his part, Trump appears to be in it for the money. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single time he has spoken with, about, or in relation to Indian Americans or American Hindus. Suddenly, after the check cleared, Trump hastily announced a big rally in New Jersey – a state he surely understands has no strategic value for him. The timing is a little on the nose. But then, Trump has never been subtle when it comes to greed.
Featured image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images