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12.23.2010

rep. anh 'joseph' cao meets his biggest fan

Here's a neat story on New Orleans' Rep. Anh 'Joseph' Cao, the first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress, who recently took some time to meet and talk with a fellow Vietnamese American -- 8-year-old Ben Stokely: Joseph Cao meets young admirer on Capitol Hill.

Ben, who was adopted from Vietnam when he was 8 months old, is the same age as Cao was when he came to the United States as a refugee in 1975. Ben and his parents met with Rep. Cao in the Rayburn House Office Building cafeteria.

The kid came prepared with questions:
"Is Vietnam more communist than a democracy?" he asked.

"Absolutely," said Cao, who visited Vietnam in January as a member of Congress and described a nation that has made some economic progress, but still denies its people basic freedoms.

"Are you going back to Vietnam?" asked Ben.

"I would like to go back to Vietnam to visit as a tourist, and then I've nudged the president that I'd like to be ambassador to Vietnam. He has not responded," Cao said. "Maybe you can give him a call and say, 'Mr. President, I have a Vietnamese-American congressman that I'd like to be ambassador to Vietnam.'"

Ben politely demurred. "I don't think President Obama wants to talk to me."

"You might be surprised," Cao said. "He might be more likely to talk to you than to me."
Ben is apparently the congressman's biggest fan. Unfortunately, he isn't one of Rep. Cao's New Orleans' constituents, nor is he even old enough to vote. Otherwise, he could have helped Cao's re-election campaign. The congressman was defeated by Cedric Richmond in November, and leaves office next month.