Obama works the crowd and they work him
POSTED: Thursday, December 25, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama gave an early Christmas gift to several fans waiting to watch him play golf in Lanikai.
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Justin Manson, 9, of Lanikai stood on the street yesterday overlooking the 18th hole at the Mid-Pacific Country Club golf course. He held his right arm after shaking the president-elect's hand and said he will wait to wash it.
"I'm going to wait till Christmas morning because I shook the next president's hand and it's exciting," he said.
Obama did not play the 18th hole, but drove a golf cart past it to a motorcade waiting in the parking lot.
About 50 people had gathered along the road, hoping to see him putt on the green several feet away. Obama waved from his cart, and it appeared he was going to leave. Then he started walking toward the waiting crowd.
"Merry Christmas, everybody," he said. "Good to see you guys. Aloha."
Obama decided to hit the gym and play a little golf, many hoping to spot the president-elect in Kailua.
One woman asked how his game was.
"It was terrible but that's OK," he said as the group laughed.
Then he went down the line shaking hands.
Anneliese Chun lives on the same street as Mid-Pacific and has a photo of Bill Clinton when he played there. Chun walked her brown Shiba Inu to the same spot with a camera around her neck.
"Is that a fox? It looks like a fox," Obama said when he approached her dog, Sheba.
Chun, who got her dog from the Hawaiian Humane Society, said Sheba "would like to go to the White House."
Obama did not respond.
"He petted the dog. He was on to the next person," she said.
Jan Montgomery, in a Santa's hat, said she almost cried.
"Everyone can't stop smiling," said Elliott Rosenfeld, 19, after Obama left.
Rosenfeld was with two friends whose hiking trip turned into a meeting with Obama. After coming off the trail, the trio found a crowd next to their car.
One of the friends, Rosey Friedheim, 20, a Punahou School graduate, said she did not feel a connection with Obama, a fellow alumnus, until yesterday.
"I felt really unconnected, but now I feel really close with him," she said, adding Obama's friendliness displayed his Hawaii upbringing.
"That just showed the Hawaiian part of him," she said. "I didn't feel intimidated. I just felt comfortable."
She added, "He had soft hands."
Her friend Tiffany Armstrong, 20, added, "He's not a snob at all."