Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Thursday, January 18, 2001

Presidential visits
go back to Roosevelt

SINCE Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Hawaii in 1934, we have had visits from every sitting U.S. president.

Thus we may expect George W. Bush before long. In October he may meet with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group, a "must do" on President Clinton's travel list.

Since that session will be in Shanghai, Bush will owe Japan a visit, too, equal or better in length and quality than his China visit -- or Japan's nose will be out of joint.

As with other presidents, he may find Hawaii a convenient stopping place on the long road to or from Asia, if only to rest so he will be fresh at his destination.

Clinton stopped here frequently for such reasons.

The new president's father came here in 1990 to campaign (unsuccessfully) for GOP Rep. Pat Saiki to move up to the Senate, also to hold here the only summit any president has had with leaders of Pacific Island nations. He chose the East-West Center in Manoa as the venue for these meetings.

Ronald Reagan stopped mainly to rest en route to and from Asia.

Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford made talks following trips to Asia. Carter, a former submariner, previously had naval duty here.

Richard Nixon gave Hawaii the most presidential attention of all. He was the only major nominee ever to campaign here. That was in 1960, and he lost in a tight recount, but he came back often after he finally won the White House in 1968. He flew here to meet the first astronauts returning from space and had Vietnam summit sessions here. He raved about the beauty of Kauai.

Lyndon Johnson found Hawaii a convenient summit location to meet both Korean and Vietnamese leaders.

John Kennedy came here a few months before his assassination to use a conference of U.S mayors as a forum to launch a campaign for civil rights legislation that his successor, Johnson, achieved.

Dwight Eisenhower came here in 1952 as president-elect on his way back from a trip to Korea that he had promised the public as a step toward ending the unpopular war there. He was here as president in connection with travel to Japan.

HARRY Truman stopped here on his way to a secret meeting at Midway to fire Gen. Douglas MacArthur as commander of our forces in Korea. When Truman was out of the presidency, he came back and vacationed for a month on Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay, relishing the privacy it afforded him.

Pre-Air Force One, Roosevelt had two by-surface visits -- in 1934 and 1944. The second was to meet secretly with Pacific military commanders to plan the final steps of the war. Because of censorship, no word of this was carried by the media until after he had returned to the U.S. mainland by cruiser and made a nationwide radio address.

In 1934, FDR called his visit a vacation, fished at Kona, stopped at Hilo, was hosted by the Navy and at Washington Place and made a farewell speech from the Iolani Palace steps. Unofficially, he may have looked into the possibility of naval rule here following the Massie rape-murder cases involving a Navy family, and talked about the rising threat of war with Japan.

Warren Harding came here before he was president, but not while in office.

A.A. Smyser is the contributing editor
and former editor of the the Star-Bulletin
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin