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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 29, 2006

Obama's decision expected on 'Oprah' if he runs

Video: Hawai'i supporters urge Obama candidacy

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie called a press conference to urge Barack Obama to run for the Democratic nomination. To his left is Rep. Della Au Bellatti; on the right is Brian Shatz and Rep. Tom Brower.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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If Hawai'i-born Sen. Barack Obama decides to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president, he will likely make the announcement soon on the "Oprah Winfrey Show," according to U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i.

He said Obama had indicated during an earlier appearance with Winfrey that he would be announce his candidacy on the program if he decides to run in 2008.

"If that takes place, it will be the most-watched daytime television show in American history," said Abercrombie, who held a press conference yesterday with a small group of other Hawai'i-based Obama supporters to urge that he join the race.

Obama, D-Illinois, is keeping a low profile as he vacations here and has indicated that he will announce a decision on his candidacy some time after he returns to the Mainland this weekend.

Abercrombie said he believed that would come within the first two weeks of January, but did not know an exact date.

Representatives of the Chicago-based "Oprah" show could not be reached late yesterday.

"I believe it's his destiny to run, and his destiny to win," Abercrombie said.

He and about two dozen others gathered outside the Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole Federal Building to show their support for Obama just hours after another big-name Democrat, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, announced in New Orleans that he would seek the presidency.

Two others who are officially in the race are Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich. But Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is also widely expected to seek the Democratic nomination, and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry is another possible contender.

Abercrombie said he has "nothing but aloha" for Edwards and believed he would be a formidable candidate, but did not know in advance that Edwards would make his announcement yesterday.

He said he was "hoping that Sen. Clinton will come to the conclusion that the best role for her is to support an Obama candidacy."

Abercrombie said he had spoken with Obama during his visit here but was not in daily contact with him, and that Obama's supporters had made it a point not to pester him.

"All of us here in Hawai'i understand very, very well and we've given him breathing space here in Hawai'i that he needs some respite time, and he needs an opportunity to take some deep breaths before he makes his final decision," Abercrombie said.

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

Former Hawai'i state Rep. Brian Schatz, director of the Hawai'i branch of draftobama.org, said Obama's childhood here puts him in a unique position.

"Sen. Obama is not a person who has to have Hawai'i explained to him," Schatz said. "He's a person who understands diversity, the importance of environmental protection, the plight of Native Hawaiians, because he experienced all of that as he grew up here.

"And so, we think it would be wonderful for Hawai'i to have a president who had internalized all the best lessons of Hawai'i."

Reach Johnny Brannon at jbrannon@honoluluadvertiser.com.