Akaka endorses Obama
Hawaii-born Sen. Barack Obama is closer to securing the Democratic presidential nomination after winning two Hawaii superdelegates yesterday.
Obama, according to the Associated Press tally, is just 154 delegates away from securing the nomination, while Sen. Hillary Clinton needs 328 more votes to win.
Yesterday, Obama won over Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka and Dolly Strazar, the Hawaii national committeewoman.
Strazar, who has been wooed by both Clinton and Obama, including calls from former President Bill Clinton, said she delayed so long in making a decision because she wanted "to let this unique presidential campaign process play ... before expressing my preference as a superdelegate."
Also waiting was Akaka, who said he was friends with all 10 of the original Democratic candidates. In the end, Akaka mentioned Obama's ties to Hawaii as part of the reason he pledged his support to the Illinois Democrat.
"I have great hope that in his own way Barack Obama will achieve what I have been working to accomplish my entire congressional career: more tolerance and understanding, an appreciate for common goals and interests, rather than an emphasis on our differences," Akaka said.
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, spokeswoman for the local Clinton campaign, said Clinton "has been dubbed the 'comeback-kid,' so there still might be a way she can win enough delegates to capture the nomination.
"Until she or the campaign say, 'This is it,' you have to think they have figured out a way to do it," Hanabusa said. "I can't imagine if it is completely impossible that they would continue."
Hanabusa, president of the state Senate, noted that it is expected that Obama will get at least one more Hawaii superdelegate when the state Democrats meet in convention on May 23. The party chairman is a superdelegate, and both candidates for the post, Brian Schatz and Annelle Amaral, have said they would vote for Obama.
"There is no question that there was overwhelming support for Senator Obama in terms of our own caucus," Hanabusa said. "So it is understandable that the chair would vote for Obama."
Hawaii's superdelegates include the four-person congressional delegation, the national committeeman and committeewoman, the party chair, the vice chair and one picked by the state central committee after the state convention.
Clinton is favored by Sen. Daniel Inouye and Richard Port, the national committeeman. Obama is supported by U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono, and Strazar.