Obama to attend isle fundraiser
Hawaii-born U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, who has said he is taking a week off before the Democratic National Convention, is returning to Oahu for an Aug. 12 fundraiser, and supporters expect him to hang out for awhile.
His campaign declined to confirm that he'll stay the whole week for recreation and relaxation with family and friends in Hawaii. But when British Tory leader David Cameron told Obama he should spend some time on the beach, the Democratic candidate said he was planning to take a week before the Aug. 25-28 convention in Denver.
And Hawaii's got the beaches Obama knows best.
"It's definitely to rest and recuperate, and recharge his batteries before going to the convention," said Hawaii Rep. Neil Abercrombie, an early Obama supporter. "I don't know if you can call it a vacation as much as a time off."
He declined to say how long Obama would stay in the islands.
In addition to the $2,300-a-person fundraiser, Abercrombie said, Obama would hold some kind of public event.
"He has a great affection for Hawaii ... and he definitely has family ties to Hawaii," said campaign spokesman Nayyera Haq. Obama's grandmother and half-sister live in Hawaii.
Obama supporter Donna Mercado Kim, a convention delegate and state senator, said she has heard Obama could stay in Hawaii for five days, and maybe play a round of golf.
"I imagine he wants to come for vacation and see his family. We have so many healing qualities in Hawaii," said Kim, a vice chairwoman of the fundraiser. "I hope he finds some time to golf."
When Obama met with Cameron in London during the weekend, he confirmed for the first time that he would be taking some kind of vacation after intense months of campaigning. The conversation was picked up by a boom microphone used by reporters, but it was unclear how aware the two were the conversation could be heard.
"You should be on the beach. You need a break," Cameron said.
Obama agreed he needed to refresh himself and, when asked if he'd taken a break at all, said: "I have not. I am going to take a week in August."
It will be the first time since the Illinois senator announced he was running that he has returned to Hawaii, where he graduated from Punahou School and has since visited family frequently.
"It's a great idea that he's coming to get a little rest and prepare for the convention during a time that will be a little slow because of the Olympics," said attorney Rick Fried, another fundraiser vice chairman. "It's a reasonable amount of money. I've gotten checks from a number of Republicans who are going to be Obama supporters."
The $2,300 tickets get Obama backers into the general reception with the Illinois senator at the Kahala Hotel & Resort. A $10,000 donation will buy admission to a private reception with Obama.
Fried said he expects about 500 people to attend the fundraiser.
It's rare for presidential candidates to visit Hawaii because the state carries only four electoral votes and its residents usually vote for Democrats anyway.
Republican candidate John McCain has not announced a trip to Hawaii.