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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 28, 2006

Obama's visit all about golfing, not presidency

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Barack Obama

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Supporters of possible presidential candidate Barack Obama say they are respecting the Hawai'i-born U.S. senator's privacy as he vacations here this week but continue to urge that he seek the Democratic Party nomination.

Obama, who played golf yesterday at the Waialae Country Club, has indicated that he will announce a decision sometime after he returns to the Mainland this weekend.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, said he senses that the 45-year-old Illinois senator and Punahou School graduate "knows what he wants to do" but is carefully considering how a 2008 presidential bid would affect his family life.

"I think this has come to him, and I think everybody is projecting on to him their hopes and dreams, the things that they would like to see," said Abercrombie, who was an old friend of Obama's parents and is hopeful he will run.

Abercrombie said he believes Obama has a unique ability to communicate with people in an inclusive way that incorporates the aloha spirit of Hawai'i.

"Our diversity defines us rather than divides us, and he can say that with a straight face and mean it, and that's what people are looking for," Abercrombie said.

Obama is the only current U.S. senator of African ancestry. His father was black and from Kenya; his mother was white and from Kansas.

Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving for seven years in the Illinois state senate.

Hawai'i supporters helped sponsor a television ad to promote Obama, which aired here last week and included photographs and clips from speeches he has made.

Hawai'i chief appeals judge James Burns, president of Waialae Country Club, golfed with Obama yesterday after meeting him through a mutual friend. The two enjoyed themselves with four other players and did not talk politics, said Burns, whose father, John A. Burns, was Hawai'i's governor during Obama's childhood here.

"He was very relaxed and he had a great time on the golf course," Burns said of Obama. "He had some good shots and some bad shots. He's very friendly, and of course everyone wanted to say hello to him, meet him and take pictures with him."

Burns' wife, Emme Tomimbang, said Obama seemed like "just another local boy coming home to enjoy his home," and told her he was not ready to make any announcement about his candidacy.

Reach Johnny Brannon at jbrannon@honoluluadvertiser.com.