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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 3:56 p.m., Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Effort launched here to draft Obama for president

Advertiser Staff

Several Island Democrats have formed a steering committee to join a national effort to draft U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.

Obama, who was born in Honolulu and graduated from Punahou School, has been considering a presidential campaign and appeared last weekend in New Hampshire, a state with an important early primary.

Democrats on the Hawai'i steering committee have scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning at the state Capitol to formally announce their plans.

Chuck Freedman, a retired vice president of corporate relations for Hawaiian Electric Co. and former communications director for former Gov. John Waihee, said the committee has contacted Obama's aides and has received a positive response.

"The whole focus of this is to get people to express support for him as a candidate," Freedman said. "He would be the first Hawai'i-born president."

A spokesman for Obama's Senate office in Washington, D.C., could not be reached today.

"The effort here is to say this guy is really a top-notch candidate," Freedman said. "Not just because he was born in Hawai'i, but because he offers something very special to the country and the world."

Freedman said the steering committee includes former state Rep. Brian Schatz, state Sen. Russell Kokubun, D-2nd (S. Hilo, Puna, Ka'u), state Sen. Clarence Nishihara, D-18th (Waipahu, Crestview, Pearl City), state Rep. Scott Saiki, D-22nd (McCully, Pawa'a), and state Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-25th (Makiki, Tantalus).