July 15, 2008

NIAC Welcomes Sen. McCain’s Appointment of Iranian-American Liaison

NIAC welcomes the McCain campaign’s appointment of a special coordinator for Iranian American outreach. McCain’s is the first presidential campaign in history to create a specific position for the purpose of reaching out to the Iranian-American community.

A spokesperson for the McCain campaign will announce the appointment of Mr. Raymond Rahbar as director of Iranian American outreach in the coming days. The move constitutes a nod by the presumptive Republican nominee to the Iranian American community and an acknowledgment of the community’s increasing political presence and importance as a key stakeholder in the national debate.

The appointment comes at a time when Sen. McCain’s support among Iranian Americans has been shaken by his recent comments–most notably a joke about US cigarette exports to Iran in which the Senator said “Maybe that’s a way of killing them.” Last week, NIAC issued a statement urging Sen. McCain to apologize for his insensitive remark, and continues to lead discussions with the campaign to resolve the issue.

Mr. Rahbar’s responsibilities will include contributing to policy development for Iranian-American issues, fundraising, and voter outreach. 

NIAC spokeswoman Goli Fassihian welcomed the news of Mr. Rahbar’s appointment. “We commend the McCain campaign for taking the lead in recognizing the increasing and valuable role Iranian Americans play in our democracy,” she said. “We hope this new position will allow Sen. McCain to engage on a much greater level with members of our community.”

It is unclear whether the Obama campaign has plans to create a similar position.

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NIAC is a Washington, DC-based 501 c(3) non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. NIAC is funded through donations from the Iranian-American community as well as grants from the Pluralism Fund, the Kenbe Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among others. For more information about the organization, please visit niacouncil.org, email us at [email protected] or send a fax to (202) 386-6409.




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