Hawaii voters welcome a session with Obama
The Democratic presidential candidate will be in Hawaii for a vacation and fundraiser.
Barack Obama's arrival in Hawaii today marks the first time he has returned to his birthplace in more than 18 months. It is an opportunity to unwind before the Democratic National Convention later this month and the grueling campaign to come, to raise funds, visit with his family and speak to a hometown crowd at Keehi Lagoon park.
It is also an opportunity for criticism from his rival and detractors, for the islands have always been seen through dual prisms -- as a desirable place to vacation and as a extravagant location for junkets.
One of John McCain's spokesman has already labeled Obama's visit an indulgence, saying instead of working on important legislation with his allies in Congress, "he's joining them at the beach" -- predictable rhetoric for the presidential campaign.
Hawaii's distance from the continent and modest voter power rarely pencil out as an advantage for leading candidates for the White House. Republican McCain, who spends most weekends at his compound near an Arizona resort town, hasn't indicated he will campaign here.
Obama, whose 50-state strategy has taken him to every state except Alaska, is making at least one public appearance in Hawaii outside of a fundraising event next week, which few residents could afford to attend because of the $2,300 ticket.
Though many Hawaii voters are expected to cast ballots for him, they and those who are still on the fence were given a chance to take a closer look at the man who rightfully claims native son status and might become their president.
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