Primary campaign shifts into high gear
As Hawaii Democrats get ready for their Tuesday caucus, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is expected to start campaigning on Oahu today, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., releases a new radio commercial and the Democratic Party is being swamped with new voters.
Clinton, 27-year-old daughter of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former President Bill Clinton, is expected to attend the opening of a new Kalihi-Palama Community Health Center and speak at a University of Hawaii-West Oahu political science class.
Clinton had been working in New York for an investment firm but is now moving around the country for her mother's presidential campaign. Her activities became news earlier this month when an MSNBC commentator criticized her mother's campaign by saying it had "pimped out" Chelsea, who was phoning Democratic Party superdelegates for her mother.
The Clinton campaign called the comment "beneath contempt," and the anchor, David Shuster, was suspended.
Tomorrow, Chelsea Clinton is expected to attend the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market and a health-care summit at the state Capitol and make a stop at the Zippy's Restaurant in Hawaii Kai, where she dined with her mother and father during one of President Clinton's trips to Hawaii.
The front-runner in the Hawaii Democratic caucus, Obama is expected today to launch a radio ad to go along with his television commercials. Unlike the generic TV spots, the radio ad was recorded especially for Hawaii.
Obama's candidacy has sparked a huge wave in local interest in the Tuesday night Democratic caucus.
Yesterday, David Plouffe, Obama's national campaign chairman, said because Obama grew up in the islands, he had supporters even before he was in the race.
"There has been a real explosion of interest in Barack's candidacy," Plouffe said yesterday in a conference call to local news reporters.
That interest was evident yesterday at Democratic Party headquarters at Ward Warehouse, where three volunteers were signing up new Democrats and answering questions about the Tuesday caucus, which will decide how many convention delegates are awarded to Obama and Clinton.
Longtime Democratic Party volunteer Pat Stanley said the party membership has grown to 24,000 from 20,000 since the 2006 election, with most of those coming in the last few months.
"I'm getting calls from people saying they were Republican, but they just wanted to vote," Stanley said.
While some callers have said they wanted to vote for Clinton, Stanley said the overwhelming majority of interest is because of Obama.