CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, shown in his Federal Building office in Honolulu on Friday, said Barack Obama is too inexperienced for a presidential campaign and that "he should wait."
Inouye believes Obama’s too early
Clinton is in the best position to run for the White House, the Hawaii leader says
Hawaii's senior senator, Daniel Inouye, says it is too soon for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to run for president.
Inouye, 82, who has served in the Senate since 1963, is the third most senior member of the Senate and is considered a national leader of the Democratic Party.
Asked in an interview last week about Obama, Inouye said that while the 46-year-old former state senator is smart and hard working, he does not have the experience for a presidential campaign.
Inouye said the Democrats have several current and former members of the Senate who would be good candidates, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Sen. John Edwards. "They also say Barack Obama, but he should wait."
"He has been in the Senate for, what, two years. You can almost anticipate what they are going to do with him. It is always predictable. Someone is always digging up dirt.
"They will dig up everything, even traffic tags, the whole works," Inouye warned.
"He has a good reputation," Inouye said of Obama. "He works hard, but his work would be effected by whatever plans he makes.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., right, spoke with Sen.-elect Jon Tester, D-Mont., Thursday in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hawaii's Sen. Daniel Inouye said the former first lady's "financial resources and organizational resources" make her the best person for the Democratic Party to nominate as a presidential candidate.
"Someone can get away with it like John F. Kennedy did. He just left and started campaigning, but I don't know about (whether) Illinois politics would permit that," Inouye said.
Former state Rep. Brian Schatz, who has been heading the Hawaii campaign requesting Obama to run for president, said "it was much too early to be narrowing the field."
"It is a good sign that the Democrats have three or more exciting candidates to choose from. From Hawaii's perspective we can't lose," Schatz said.
Obama was born in Honolulu and graduated from Punahou School before going to Columbia University and Harvard Law School.
Inouye said it was just too soon to endorse any candidate for president.
"I would like to endorse someone who has indicated that he or she is running for president. In that sense I am a politician," Inouye joked.
Looking at the field of possible candidates today, Inouye said that he would "give you odds that on the Democratic stage, the person in the best position to be nominated is Hillary Clinton, because of her financial resources and organizational resources."
"On the Republican side, it would be (John) McCain (the Arizona Republican senator)," Inouye said.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, urged Obama to run.
Abercrombie stopped short of using the word "endorsement" in supporting an Obama candidacy, but said he would back him over other candidates, including Clinton and Edwards.