Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., talked to patrons at a coffee shop yesterday in Dover, N.H. New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary is on Tuesday.
Obama backer brings aloha to frigid arena
A Maui attorney is waving signs in New Hampshire ahead of the next primary
For someone from Hawaii to wake up early and do a little sign waving in support of a political candidate is hardly unusual.
Doing it in subfreezing temperatures thousands of miles from home is another story.
But yesterday, on the streets of Derry, N.H., there stood Maui attorney Gil Coloma-Agaran with his Barack Obama sign.
"It's a little different from Hawaii," Coloma-Agaran said by telephone yesterday. "Back home, if they don't like you, they ignore you. Here they'll let you know."
Coloma-Agaran and other Hawaii Obama supporters are focused on keeping the momentum going from a big victory in Iowa Thursday.
Obama, who was born in Honolulu and is a 1979 Punahou graduate, won Iowa with 37.6 percent of the vote in the state's Democratic caucus.
New Hampshire holds its primary on Tuesday.
From a campaigning standpoint, Obama does not have to make any drastic changes in his strategy at this point, said Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii political scientist.
"For one, there isn't much you can change in that short of time (before New Hampshire)," he said. "Secondly, it's not his problem to change; it's the other candidates' problem, especially Hillary (Clinton)."
Clinton supporters, including Hawaii Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, note that the race is just beginning and that national polls still show the former first lady with broader support that likely will show up on Super Tuesday, when 19 states hold primary or caucus votes on Feb. 5.
Obama's supporters in Hawaii plan to watch the returns from New Hampshire as they did for Iowa, while gearing up for the state's Democratic primary on Feb. 19.
Hawaii supporters also are showing a strong interest in Nevada, which boasts enough Hawaii transplants and visitors to Las Vegas that it has picked up the unofficial nickname of being "the Ninth Island."
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who campaigned in Iowa, already has said he plans to stump for Obama in Nevada.
"There is strong interest in being supportive in Nevada," said Brian Schatz, spokesman for the Obama campaign in Hawaii. "We are calling on Hawaii residents to reach out to their friends and family in Nevada, in particular in Las Vegas, to try to support our hometown boy."
Coloma-Agaran said his wife, Kallie Keith-Agaran, is with him in New Hampshire, but she plans to campaign in Nevada after next week, while he heads home. For now his support for Obama is forcing him to brave subfreezing temperatures and piles of snow.
"Today it's a little warmer," he said, snow crunching beneath his feet. "I think it's about 20."
Actually, the high in Derry was about 21 degrees yesterday, according to the Weather Channel online, with wind chill making it feel 6 degrees colder.
As for the temperature of the voters, Coloma-Agaran -- no stranger to politics himself -- said the attitudes of many people he has talked to seem to reflect recent polls that show Obama in a tight race with Clinton.
"It's pretty close to that," said Coloma-Agaran, a former Cayetano administration Cabinet member. "People in New Hampshire are pretty knowledgeable. They've been bombarded this year, since the campaign started, with a lot of information.
"I think you can tell that in some ways the people here want to get it over with. The ones who haven't decided yet, they're still being pretty cagey about it."