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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sen Allen - Press Conference after meeting with Indian-American Community

I just received this transcript to share with my readers.

Today, Senator Allen met with friends and leaders in the Indian-American community. Following the private meeting, Senator Allen spoke to the press. I wanted to share some of his comments with you.

Senator Allen: "This matter was my mistake. I have apologized for it. And, it's one that I wanted to hear from my friends and their views and for them to hear me, a heart-felt apology. The whole point of what happened was to use sarcasm and humor directed to my opponent not having been to these small towns and rural areas where he had sent a tracker to video tape. These are areas that we have gotten jobs, a school of pharmacy and a variety of beneficial aspects for the area. The point was not the photographer; the point was to send a message to Jim Webb that he hadn't been to these places and probably never would never go to these small towns. However, I made a mistake. I have apologized for it and we need move forward and that's what we were talking about here. We talked about ways to continue to work together and even redoubling the efforts. You have heard me say this on many occasions: this needs to be a land of opportunity for all regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or religion. I have said we need to be a meritocracy and we also need to be the World Capital of Innovation. For us to be that World Capital of Innovation, all people, all Americans need to be involved for us. And that is a key area where all of us will work together in the future."

Question: Are you going to call Mr. Sidarth and give him a personal apology?

Senator Allen: "I have apologized to him and I look forward to seeing him on trail ahead. We will be leaving directly for Norfolk where we will be having a rally with our veterans-Veterans for Allen-and John McCain is coming down as well as Paul Gillanti who is my chairman and former POW. I suspect that Sidarth will be there and I hope to have the opportunity to see him and personally apologize."

Question: Senator, what did you mean by macaca and 'welcome to America'?

Senator Allen: "I didn't know what his name was. I didn't know where he was from… The whole point was to send a message to Jim Webb that while he is sending this tracker along where we had been going all week from the Northern Neck to Fredericksburg to the Richmond area to southwest Virginia and small towns in these rural areas…we'd send a message, 'Jim, this is real America. Welcome to real America, in Virginia with real people in the real world. It's a place outside the beltway.' This tracker was giving Webb a travelogue and maybe he could learn something about Virginia and the real world."

Question: You have made this a priority in damage control?

Senator Allen: "I have made it a priority …one makes mistakes and folks are going to pile on…but I have no one to blame but myself. What bothers me the most, it so contrary to who I am. It tears my guts up. It is so contrary to how Sudhakar [Shenoy] has known me… I have known a long time, before I was governor. He was on my steering committee. The Indian American community is an outstanding group of individuals who have been long time friends and allies. The portrayal of this is so contrary, so contrary to the way I honestly, genuinely believe. It hurts me personally. It was touching to me that so many outstanding leaders in this community would take time come here and offer support, working together in the future as we have in the past. And also, to see how some of this has been portrayed in a way that is hurtful and I certainly did not mean to hurt any individual or demean any individual."

Question: Sidarth felt that you singled him out and continued to insult him.

Senator Allen: "The point is, it wasn't Sidarth. It was the person he is working for, my opponent. Who was with Hollywood moguls that week raising money and we were out in the real world with real Virginians. That was the point. I have apologized not only to Sidarth, but to anybody who found it to be a hurtful statement."

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