President Obama appears in new television advertisements for U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie for governor and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa for U.S. Congress as local Democrats try to seize on the Hawaii-born president’s popularity in the islands.
Obama describes Abercrombie, who is up against Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, as a friend who has the experience, independence and character to be governor.
"I’ve known Neil my entire life and I know that he will create jobs for Hawaii’s families, improve our schools and help drive a new clean energy economy throughout the islands," Obama says in the ad, which was paid for by the Abercrombie campaign.
Obama said he needs Hanabusa, who is facing U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, in urban Honolulu’s 1st Congressional District, as a partner in Washington, D.C. The ad was sponsored by the Hanabusa campaign.
"Our nation is at a turning point. We can choose to strengthen our economy, or turn back the clock," Obama says. "To keep Hawaii moving forward, I need a partner I trust, like Colleen Hanabusa.
"Colleen’s values are Hawaii’s values. They’re the values I learned growing up. That’s why she’ll defend Medicare and Social Security, and always fight for your jobs and a better future."
Obama has previously sent e-mails to local Democrats urging them to help Abercrombie and Hanabusa.
While Obama’s job approval ratings have slipped on the mainland, and many Democrats nationally have distanced themselves from his signature policies such as the federal health-care reform law, he remains popular in the islands.
Dylan Nonaka, the executive director of the state GOP, said the decisions by Abercrombie and Hanabusa to turn to Obama show they are out of step.
"It shows how out of touch Abercrombie and Hanabusa are," he said. "When every Democrat in the United States is running away from him, they are the only ones who are embracing his failed agenda."
Abercrombie, who knew Obama’s parents at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and was one of the early supporters of his presidential campaign, has said he would leverage his relationship with the White House to help Hawaii if elected governor. His running mate, former Democratic Party of Hawaii chairman and state lawmaker Brian Schatz, led Obama’s presidential campaign in Hawaii two years ago.
Hanabusa helped lead Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign in Hawaii, but, like other Democrats, united behind Obama after the primaries. Hanabusa has said that Djou would be an obstacle to Obama’s policy agenda if he remains in Congress.