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Armenia: Armenian-Americans Endorse Clinton Over 'Friend' Dole

Bellingham, Washington; 14 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- One of the two national organizations representing Armenian-American voters has endorsed President Bill Clinton for a second term in the White House.

The endorsement is a recommendation by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) to its members to vote for Clinton over Republican challenger Robert Dole. The committee endorsed Clinton four years ago. The decision was made last weekend and was regarded as difficult by the committee because Armenian Americans have for years regarded Dole, a former senator, as one of their best friends in the U.S. Congress.

A committee spokesman told RFE/RL that under Clinton, Armenian-American groups have found greater access to the White House than ever before. Vicken Sonnentz-Papazian, the executive director of the ANC regional office representing the western half of the United States, says Armenian Americans, "for the first time in history" have regular contacts with key decision-makers in the executive branch of government.

Papazian says this historical increase in access to the presidency counted heavily in the Armenian National Council decision to repeat its 1992 endorsement of Clinton. But, Papazian adds, "we felt that no matter who wins" in November, the result will be improved access for the Armenian-American point of view in foreign-affairs decision making.

The other national organization, the Armenian Assembly of America, is a non-profit organization and makes no endorsement -- but its members have displayed strong support for Dole.