"We believe that one of the strengths of Sen. Obama (at right) is his tie to Hawaii, his appreciation for diversity and his capacity to inspire hope and collective action."
Former Rep. Brian Schatz
Barack Obama for president?
Local Dems push for '08 run
HAWAII-born U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is being urged to run for president by a newly formed group of isle Democrats.
The group plans a news conference at 11 a.m. today in the state Capitol courtyard to urge Obama, D-Ill., to run for president in 2008.
"We believe that one of the strengths of Sen. Obama is his tie to Hawaii, his appreciation for diversity and his capacity to inspire hope and collective action," said former state Rep. Brian Schatz.
Others supporting the group include Sen. Russell Kokubun (D, Hilo-Puna), Sen. Clarence Nishihara (D-Waipahu), Rep. Scott Saiki (D, Moiliili-McCully) and Rep. Della Au Belatti (D, Makiki).
An announcement about the news conference was made by Charles Freedman, the retired vice president of corporate relations for Hawaiian Electric Co.
Obama would be the first Hawaii-born president if he ran and won, Freedman said.
The first-term senator has not announced his candidacy but has acknowledged that he is considering a run for the Democratic nomination.
Obama was born in Honolulu and graduated in 1979 from Punahou School. In 1983 he graduated from Columbia University, and moved to Chicago in 1985 to work for a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods. In 1991, Obama graduated from Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
Obama, 45, was elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving seven years in the Illinois State Senate.
He is expected to spend Christmas in Hawaii and visit his grandmother, who lives here. No public appearances are planned currently.
Kris Schultz, national media coordinator for Draftobama.org, the national political group urging Obama to run, says Hawaii's fledgling organization has some of the first elected politicians to support Obama.
"We have organized groups in 26 states and hope to organize grassroots groups in all 50 states," Schultz said.
The national organization plans to announce a group of elected officials in New Hampshire urging Obama to run and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has endorsed Obama, Schultz said.
Obama's flirtation with a presidential run gained momentum and massive media attention this week after he visited New Hampshire, home to the first primary in 2008.
The New York Times reported that his visit "was nothing short of a spectacle" with a reception "typically afforded a movie star."