Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and his wife, Michelle, and daughter, Malia, left, celebrated yesterday in Des Moines, Iowa, with his supporters after his victory in the Iowa caucus.
‘Overwhelming win’ thrills Obama supporters in Hawaii
Isle Obama campaign turns focus to upcoming primaries
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"This is not just a win; this is an overwhelming win," effused U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a supporter of Barack Obama, by phone from Iowa yesterday.
Back at Abercrombie's headquarters in Kakaako, a couple dozen Obama supporters gathered to watch the Iowa caucus returns.
"We're thrilled," said Brian Schatz, a spokesman for Obama's campaign in Hawaii.
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who is representing the campaign for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton in Hawaii, congratulated Obama but said she remains confident in the former first lady's chances.
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STAR-BULLETIN PHOTO BY AGUSTIN TABARES
Brian Schatz, left, and A.J. Halagao held Obama signs yesterday at U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's campaign headquarters in Ward Warehouse.
With Iowa behind them, supporters of Hawaii-born presidential hopeful Barack Obama say they will now turn their focus to New Hampshire and a host of other states, hoping to maintain the momentum generated by an eight-point victory in the first contest of the 2008 race for the White House.
Obama, the junior senator from Illinois and a 1979 Punahou graduate, came away with 38 percent of the vote in yesterday's Iowa caucuses. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards finished second with 30 percent, followed by New York Sen. Hillary Clinton at 29 percent.
"He's going to come roaring out of here," U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said by telephone from Iowa, where he was stumping for Obama.
"This is not just a win; this is an overwhelming win," he added. "They were neck and neck and it's not even close."
Locally, a couple dozen Obama supporters gathered at Abercrombie's campaign headquarters in Kakaako to watch the returns.
"We're thrilled," said Brian Schatz, a spokesman for Obama's campaign in Hawaii. "This is the first step on a long journey, but history has been kind to Iowa caucus winners, so this is a very important night for Barack Obama's candidacy."
The last three Democratic winners -- John Kerry, Al Gore and Bill Clinton -- all went on to win the nomination. The same is true for the past three Republican winners: George W. Bush, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush.
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who is representing the Clinton campaign in Hawaii, congratulated Obama but said she remains confident in the former first lady's chances.
Clinton remains ahead in many national polls, something that Hanabusa expects will play out as more states hold their primary and caucus votes.
"It's definitely an interesting race," said Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua). "I've always felt that if anything, it's shown you the breadth of the Democratic Party."
The next key date is Tuesday, when New Hampshire holds its presidential primary, with all eyes on Feb. 5 -- this year dubbed "Super Duper Tuesday" -- when a record number of delegates will be up for grabs.
Schatz said the Obama campaign in Hawaii will meet before then to organize and discuss strategies for getting out the vote.
"It's going to be about money and grass-roots organizing," he said. "In both of these areas, we're doing very well."
After yesterday's victory, "I expect that both money and volunteers will now fall from the sky," he added.
Meanwhile yesterday, local Republicans also gathered on the occasion of the Iowa caucuses for a "Unity Luncheon."
On the Republican side, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won Iowa with roughly 34 percent of the vote, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 25 percent.
Representatives from the local campaigns for Huckabee, Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain met at yesterday's GOP event.
"The purpose of the meeting was to stress our similarities and not our differences as we head into the next 35 days of primaries," said state Rep. Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai), co-chairman of the local McCain campaign.