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Obama still holds passion of the isles

By Mike Gordon

LAST UPDATED: 01:58 a.m. HST, Nov 07, 2012

President Barack Obama may be the leader of the free world, but here in Hawaii, in the place he calls home, he’s something more special than that.

Across the state Tuesday evening, as word spread that Obama had won a second term, the people of his home state thought of him as a standard bearer for the values they cherish: family and friendship in a multicultural community.

Hawaii voters once again embraced their favorite son, giving him a 70.6 percent to 27.8 percent edge over Mitt Romney. Support for Obama was slightly lower than in 2008, when Obama won 72 percent of the Hawaii vote.

“I think Hawaii, more than maybe other parts of the country, appreciated what Obama has always been trying to do, which is to take care of your ohana,” said Tom Holo­wach, 61, of Kailua. “I think that this will be seen as a triumph over selfishness and a victory for taking care of those who aren’t as fortunate.”

Obama shows the world that a multicultural community is nothing to be afraid of, said Holo­wach, who manages the Paliku Theatre and met the president after his first election. He lives near Mid-Pacific Country Club and shook Obama’s hand when the president stopped to greet well-wishers along the golf course.

“Hawaii is truly the melting pot that everyone said America was,” Holo­wach said. “America was a soup that had lots of lumps that never congealed. In Hawaii the lumps melted together and became one.”

When Obama was elected the first time in 2008, Hawaii celebrated with an overflowing expression of pride. Four years later the triumph of its most famous native son is still worth celebrating, said Shari Chan, 52, a Kamehameha Schools English teacher who went to Punahou with Obama.

“I definitely think Hawaii will still feel pride,” she said. “There is a sense that he represents some of the things that Hawaii finds important: diversity and taking care of each other.”

But it’s more than that, said Chan, who lives in Kaha­luu. She said Obama showed the world — and will continue to show the world — what Hawaii is capable of producing.

“I think a lot of people have the stereotype of Hawaii as a ticky-tacky-whacky place with umbrellas in our drinks,” she said. “He shows we have top-notch schools here that educate leaders who can compete with the rest of the United States and the world. I think he has shown us in a new light, that people can see us as a power in the Pacific.”

As president, Obama has made Hawaii a regular vacation destination during the Christmas holidays. He goes to the beach, eats shave ice with his daughters and plays basketball with old friends. To some that was seen as extravagant because he was in Hawaii, but Mary Wil­kow­ski, a Hono­lulu attorney and small-business owner, said they forget one key point.

“He is coming home,” she said. “Everyone has a right to come home.”

The values that Obama “shines a national klieg light on” were nurtured here, so it stands to reason that his visits invigorate the president with the things that shaped him, she said.

“He maintains friendships in the state, and I would imagine that refreshment and perspective is really good for him,” she said. “Before he was president, he was island-born and raised.”

Among those friends is Alan Lum, who played basketball with Obama when they went to Punahou. When the president visits, Lum is usually invited to play basketball with his former teammate, who still calls everyone by their nickname.

Obama calls Lum “A-Lum,” but Lum calls his friend “Mr. President.”

“The last four years have been hard on him, but it’s been the same way for his friends,” said the 51-year-old Lum, a second-grade teacher at Punahou who had trouble sleeping the night before the election. “I couldn’t sleep. When he is hurting, we hurt, too. I feel for him.”

Growing up in Hawaii, Obama developed an inner strength — “an underdog mentality” — that the people of Hawaii embrace, Lum said. 

“Resiliency is how you could term his time growing up here,” Lum said. “He was very resilient, and through those times he created some strategies and skills that sway people his way.”

There are some things the president can’t do anymore, even when he comes home, Lum said. He can’t just walk down the street with his children. He can’t hang out at a park or go bodysurfing at Sandy Beach like he did when he was a teenager — like he did during his first campaign.

But if he did hit Sandy’s, perhaps as a way to wash away the exhausting campaign or to just catch the current 2- to 4-foot swell, the bodysurfers would make room in his favorite lineup.

“I think everyone would cut him some slack and cheer him on to catch some waves,” said Kaulu Adams, an 18-year-old college freshman from Kailua who voted Tuesday for the first time — and for Obama, the nation’s first surfing president.

“That’s why I see him as a good president, because my life revolves around the ocean, and to see our president surfing is cool,” Adams said. “I think he’s a big success story. He wasn’t the greatest student in high school, and he became president. He gives Hawaii people an eye-opener: You can do anything you want.”

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tiki886 wrote:
Gun and ammo sales will skyrocket tomorrow. Time to buy stock in those companies.
on November 7,2012 | 01:14AM
hawaiikone wrote:
Time to let it go. we tried, we lost. My prayer is that I was wrong. I'd much rather choose that over having to say "I told you so".
on November 7,2012 | 03:59AM
false wrote:
Fact is the Hispanics carried the vote. 50,000 18 year olds achieve age to vote every month. Fact is the industrial people of the swing states carried the vote. Fact is young people of this nation want a future they can build. The young people, the Hispanics, the workers believe this President makes it possible for their nation to survive. The Republicans in Congress worked to undo this President. Romney was their standard. He wasn't believable until he gave his concession speech. That was the most presidential of his whole challenge The people who make the difference chose. Hawaii grown and Hawaii humble and Hawaii smart is the President of the United States. Be proud. We raised him. He is us.
on November 7,2012 | 04:17AM
Classic_59Chevy wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 7,2012 | 04:43AM
bumbye wrote:
What do you mean? He is made up of two races.
on November 7,2012 | 10:45PM
edster48 wrote:
A sad statement for our future.
on November 7,2012 | 06:40AM
64hoo wrote:
i also know that there us about 600,000 illegal hispanics that are in our college and obama said we should not kick them out. i guess they voted too.
on November 7,2012 | 04:43PM
false wrote:
Better check Hawai`i because we have a new labor force. Securitas is the face of a new people in Hawai`i. Obama is making it possible for all immigrants to be here legally. They do the work and they contribute so they are entitled to the equity. Labor is a ticket to freedom. Just remember them when you buy your fruits and vegetables because many live in absolute squaller to survive and deliver the goods.
on November 8,2012 | 05:17AM
hapaguy wrote:
Thank you hawaiikone. Although I have had my differences with you here on the comments section, I have always tried to respect your opinions. I wish that Republicans in Congress would take your approach. My hope is that now that the people have spoken, that both sides can find common ground on some issues and start moving this country forward. God Bless America!
on November 7,2012 | 09:29AM
false wrote:
The Republicans in congress won. There policies garnered more support than the policies of their Democrat challengers.
on November 7,2012 | 10:21AM
hapaguy wrote:
false you better check the results again. The Dems still have control of the Senate and even GAINED seats. And although the GOP retained control of the House the Dems GAINED seats from the midterm.....
on November 7,2012 | 11:26AM
copperwire9 wrote:
You're really grasping and you're really false.
on November 7,2012 | 08:04PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Appreciate your comment, hapa. I can be zealous in arguing my position, but never intend to offend. Different opinions are a part of life. I try to be a follower of Christ, and worry about our nation turning it's back on God more than any other issue facing this country. Our moral character is developed and refined by our beliefs, and witnessing a generation turn away from traditional faith based institutions has been difficult in itself. But to see those values replaced by a definition of universal equality intentionally devoid of scriptural influence has been even harder. So I echo your "God Bless America", and pray that He is still listening.
on November 7,2012 | 01:39PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Let us know when you are appearing on that "Doomsday Preppers" show.
on November 7,2012 | 05:15AM
edster48 wrote:
I know I'll be stocking up!
on November 7,2012 | 06:37AM
Classic_59Chevy wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 7,2012 | 04:00AM
Valleyisle57 wrote:
And I assume they wouldnt be stuck with the bill if Romney was elected?????
on November 7,2012 | 06:34AM
volcanohereicome wrote:
Obama does not own property here, nor does he pay taxes. He owns a home in Chicago. He launched his campaigns from Chicago, not Hawaii, and when he talks about "going home" he refers to Chicago. Romney at least has property tax bills to pay (in 3 different states), calls Massachusetts home, and means it. Hawaii is a Christmas vacation destination for Obama only. I have friends (and family) in many states, too. But when I visit, I do not call it "home." Classic has a point...taxpayers get stuck with the bill.
on November 7,2012 | 07:30AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
yes and to boot he stays in a illegal rental at $18,000 a day - so much for the noveau riche...he has never spent a Christmas in the White House or Camp David....
on November 7,2012 | 10:04AM
copperwire9 wrote:
on November 7,2012 | 08:05PM
IMVHO wrote:
He's been quoted many times as saying he's from Chicago. It helps him connect with the other side. I don't think most people in the mainland know he was brought up by his Caucasian family and went to a elite private school. It's easier to imagine that he grew up in south Chicago and can therefore relate.
on November 7,2012 | 08:25AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Sorry to say his alliance is with Chicago!
on November 7,2012 | 09:03AM
johncdechon wrote:
Well, if that's true and Obama thinks so much of crime-ridden/cesspool Democrat-controlled Chicago (for DECADES, with that sorry Daley Dynasty as mayors), then I guess that also is his "vision" for America. A sad Election Day indeed for old traditional America...but a great one for the "New America." Frankly, however, he can keep his "vision" and pathetic "hope & change." What a loser, even though he won. Says VOLUMES of the average airhead so-called "American" nowadays.
on November 7,2012 | 09:28AM
false wrote:
So what are you going to say when Tammy Duckworth runs for president? Illinois was the start of President Lincoln. His history lead Obama to Chicago.
on November 7,2012 | 10:02AM
false wrote:
You are absolutely correct. Many years ago Obama said "I am going to move to Chicago because that is where Abraham Lincoln is from"
on November 7,2012 | 10:25AM
johncdechon wrote:
Tried several times to post a response, NO WAY could I. Censorship Bot is getting smarter. Post PC pro-Obama/Democrat stuff or else! Long live the Censor Bots...
on November 7,2012 | 09:40AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Much as I'd like to have some hope and see some change, it's hard to figure where that will come from. Same Prez, an R House, a D Senate and the same cast of characters and divisive issues. After the expenditure of billions and billions, what is different today than last month or last year? Same, same.
on November 7,2012 | 10:40AM
MakaniKai wrote:
Nothing my cat friend - Nothing! Aloha.
on November 7,2012 | 11:32AM
false wrote:
More women. There's the hope and believe, Forward is where we are going! My kids are "Fired up!" and "Ready to go!" Obama can reap the benefits of the history he laid for the recovery. Now if the Tea Party can get off the pot maybe we can have some movement.
on November 7,2012 | 01:18PM
worldpeace wrote:
"Congratulations to our beloved President Barack Obama!" We are so proud of you.
on November 7,2012 | 10:43AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
In other news it was announced today that the Obama Presidential Library will be built in Chicago, Illinois, home town of Barack Obama.
on November 7,2012 | 12:22PM
hapaguy wrote:
Stop trying to spread rumors.....No decision has been made....The last reporting on the subject this past summer has it that Hawaii is still in the lead for the Obama Presintial Library....
on November 7,2012 | 01:05PM
false wrote:
That is exciting. His sister still resides and works here. His mother and grandparents are still here in repose. Obama will return. Wouldn't be surprised if they enjoy another Punahou graduate.
on November 7,2012 | 01:20PM
Bdpapa wrote:
As a betting man,I'll put my money on Chicago.
on November 7,2012 | 02:34PM
hapaguy wrote:
I'll take that bet! :)
on November 7,2012 | 03:18PM
Bdpapa wrote:
You got it! I'll collect when the time comes.
on November 7,2012 | 07:20PM
312guy wrote:
Semper fidelis Marine one will continue to carry our commander in chief the people have spoken GOD Bless America
on November 7,2012 | 07:09PM
Smiley7 wrote:
hawaiikone,I totally agree with you. Like the saying goes, old soldiers never die, they just fade away. Aloha!
on November 7,2012 | 07:14PM
blackmurano wrote:
Born again Christians around the nation and even here in Hawaii were praying for a new President that shares our Godly family values. Barack Obama calls himself a Christian an yet doesn't believe in the Holy Bible. God allowed Obama for another four years and use him for God's purpose. Judgment is coming to America and the reelection of Barack Obama is a good sign that God has departed from America.
on November 7,2012 | 08:48PM
HD36 wrote:
Judgment is coming in the form of the the US Dollar losing the status as the world's reserve currency.
on November 7,2012 | 09:23PM
HD36 wrote:
Why wouldn't he; Hawaii has the highest percentage of government workers im the United States; his kinda town, folks.
on November 7,2012 | 09:21PM
Hawaiianhaole wrote:
When he left Hawaii he never looked back, If he truly had passion for Hawaii he would have been representing us instead of Chicago. This is only a vacation playground for him. I just hope he gets it right in the next four years or else we are all doomed.
on November 8,2012 | 06:20AM
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