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Los Angeles Voters On Their Hopes For New Administration


In today's program, we are hearing from Americans across the country. And so we turn now to NPR national correspondent Adrian Florido, who is in Los Angeles, a Democratic stronghold and also the home of Vice President Harris.

Hi, Adrian.


SHAPIRO: Tell us what you've been hearing from people you've talked to today.

FLORIDO: Well, because this is Los Angeles, a heavily Democratic region, most of the people I've spoken with have been thrilled by the Biden-Harris inauguration or at least have said they're willing to give the new administration a chance. Ismael Camargo (ph) was one of the people who was thrilled.

ISMAEL CAMARGO: We can make America great again with this guy not with the other guy.

FLORIDO: Camargo was sitting on a park bench with his friend Nestor Vasquez (ph), who, like Camargo, is an immigrant from Mexico.

NESTOR VASQUEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: Vasquez said that he was hopeful that President Biden would be quicker to condemn the kind of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment that President Trump brought out in many of his supporters. And he told me that he - although he is a legal resident, he thinks it's a really good sign that the first piece of legislation Biden is going to send to Congress today is an immigration reform bill.

SHAPIRO: So as we mentioned, California is the vice president's home state. Tell us about the excitement you're hearing specifically about the history that she made today.

FLORIDO: Right. So although Harris has most recently made her home in Los Angeles, she is a child of the Bay Area. And that is where Sonia Ashok (ph) watched the inauguration. Like Vice President Harris, Ashok is Indian American, and she said that watching the ceremony today was overwhelming for her and her family.

SONIA ASHOK: To see a woman of Indian descent, a Black woman, a daughter of immigrants getting sworn in by a woman of color tells our children and our daughters that we have representation and that we are an undeniable, unshakable piece of the fabric of this country.

FLORIDO: And I heard a similar sentiment from Nina Sanford (ph) here in Los Angeles. She is Black and Native American and said she was happy to have a mixed race vice president for the first time.

NINA SANFORD: It's a good thing that now we're in the presidency so we can try to make some changes for everyone instead of it always being a white man (laughter). Biden is white, but I think he's for the people.

SHAPIRO: You know, Adrian, so many states and cities are feeling budget cuts right now, and that includes California and Los Angeles. Did people talk to you about their economic hopes under President Biden?

FLORIDO: They did. You know, a huge issue here in Los Angeles that's only gotten worse because of the pandemic is homelessness. So earlier, I swung by a homeless encampment and met Jesse Briandy (ph). He lost his job six months ago because of the pandemic and now is sleeping in a tent that he adorned with a big U.S. flag. And he told me that though he voted for Trump, he's hopeful for President Biden.

JESSE BRIANDY: What he's been campaigning and what I've been hearing from Biden that he's able to get this economy back on and to get everybody back on track - jobs and this pandemic getting taken care of. So I mean, I have - I give him my full support even though I didn't vote for him. And you know what? I'm one of the people that can say I would like to see him turn this economy around and fix this.

FLORIDO: And he said that he trusts that President Biden will be able to do that.

SHAPIRO: That's a lot of optimism from somebody in such a tough situation. Was everyone you talked to so optimistic about the new administration?

FLORIDO: No, not everyone. Kerry Baker (ph) told me, look; Biden has a big wish list. He's going to face a lot of opposition, though, from Senate Republicans. Listen to Baker.

KERRY BAKER: You might have very good intentions, so, you know, I can be, you know, optimistic. But until something actually changes, I'm going to go on about my day. I'm going about my day.

FLORIDO: Baker said that he wants specifically to see Biden do something for Black Americans because of how crucial Black voters were to making this day possible for Biden.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Adrian Florido in Los Angeles.

Thank you.

FLORIDO: Thank you, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.