Clintons make sales calls to Hawaii superdelegates
Hawaii has just nine of the 796 superdelegates who could pick the Democratic presidential candidate, but that hasn't stopped President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea from calling.
Superdelegates, who are elected party officials, members of Congress and former congressional leaders, are not bound by primary and caucus results, but superdelegates also can change their mind at any time.
With Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton nearly equal in delegate tallies, the uncommitted superdelegates become important.
The superdelegate with the busiest phone is National Committeewoman Dolly Strazar, who is still weighing the candidates and who counts Bill and Chelsea and U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie as some of the people who have called her in Hilo.
"I have had some nice chats," said Strazar, a veteran Democratic worker who runs the Lyman Mission House and Museum in Hilo.
"There have been no pressure calls. I asked some questions, in the case of the call from the president, I asked about banking regulation and the mortgage issues," Strazar said.
Chelsea left a message and Abercrombie, a supporter of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, also called to chat and offer to answer any questions.
"With Chelsea, it was just a phone message, but she was the ultimate in politeness.
"The character of the calls, I can't say enough about them. I would say they impressed me," said Strazar.
National Committeeman Richard Port, a former local Democratic Party chairman, said he is voting for Clinton and won't change his mind.
"I have a long history of trying to do everything I can for women in the Democratic Party. Hillary is the most experienced candidate," Port said.
Although superdelegates are not pledged, meaning they can change their vote and are free agents, Port said he is solidly for Clinton.
"Even if they offer to make me secretary of state, I'm not changing my vote," Port said.
U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye also supports Clinton. The two other Hawaii members of Congress, Sen. Dan Akaka and Rep. Mazie Hirono, are undecided.
A spokesman for Akaka said the senator knows all the candidates and considers them friends.
"He speaks fondly of serving with (New Mexico Gov.) Bill Richardson in the House," said Akaka spokesman Jon Yoshimura. "Dennis Kucinich flew to Hawaii to support him in 2006. Barack Obama recorded a TV commercial for his re-election campaign, and Hillary and Bill Clinton both made calls to ask the senator what they could do to help him get re-elected."
A spokesman for Hirono said the freshman congresswoman decided not to make an endorsement during the primary season.
The remaining superdelegates from Hawaii are the party chairman and vice chairman, positions that will be filled by election. The chairman is picked by all the delegates during the state convention.
So far, the only person still mentioned for that post is former state Rep. Brian Schatz, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign.
The vice chairman will be picked by the party's 78-person state central committee. And the final person, an unspecified "at-large" delegate, is also to be picked by the state central committee after the state convention in May.