Bollywood vs. RNC: ‘Glitz’ vs. ‘Stuffy Old White Guys’

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan greets fans at Tampa International Airport ahead of the 15th Indian Film Academy Awards on, April 24, 2014.

Photograph by The Tampa Bay Times, Kent Nishimure via AP Photo

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan greets fans at Tampa International Airport ahead of the 15th Indian Film Academy Awards on, April 24, 2014.

Bob Buckhorn, mayor of Tampa, Florida, played host to the Republican National Convention in 2012.

Now he is playing host to the globe-trotting event that is the Indian Film Academy Awards — aka, Bollywood on the road. The wandering international festival has played Bangkok, Amsterdam and Singapore. And now, Tampa Bay.

And Buckhorn had this to say about the two conventions:

“The Republican convention looked like me: a bunch of stuffy old white guys in suits,” the mayor said in an interview broadcast by National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” today. “This is nothing but glitz and glam and lights and music and beautiful people.”

Remember, Buckhorn is a Democrat, mayor since 2011.

The mayor is hamming it up for his newest guests, too — joining in the dancing at the opening of the 15th annual IFA awards.

Yet the mayor of the host city for the RNC convention was speaking to something of which the Republicans are well aware: The ethnic gap they face in national elections.

Much was made of the advantage that President Barack Obama had among Hispanic voters in 2012, the Democrat drawing the support of 71 percent of those voting. Yet the president’s party fared even better among Asian-Americans.

Jeb Bush, the former two-term Republican governor of Florida who allowed this week that he is “thinking about” running for president in 2016, has called his party’s performance among Asian-Americans in 2012 the “real canary in the coal mine.”

They gave three-quarters of their vote to Obama, Bush noted of the exit polling. Fair or not, he said, these generally more educated and affluent voters feel “stiff-armed” by Republicans.

It was Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican advocating for immigration reform, who said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last summer: “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who will run, in my view.”

Tampa is the center of the biggest TV media market in Florida, which is becoming the third-most populous state this year and is a central swing state in presidential elections as well. The biggest of all swing states. Obama carried it twice, narrowly.

So Tampa is playing host to a festival which the Indian-American community may be watching even more eagerly than it did that 2012 election contest.

“They wanted to introduce the Bollywood brand to the United States,” Buckhorn told NPR. “They picked a city where there’s a big Indian-American community, with the biggest media market in the state of Florida. So it made sense for a lot of reasons, and one thing we know how to do is put on a big show.”

Which the Republicans know so well.


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