Hawaii's undecided voters get Presidential pep talk

Neil Abercrombie
Neil Abercrombie

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Voters in Hawaii got a Presidential pep talk - just hours before polls open in the state. In what was billed as a 'tele-townhall' meeting, President Barack Obama tried to get out the vote for Hawaii's slate of Democratic candidates.

"This is the White House operator calling. The President is waiting to join the conference," announced an operator in Washington, D.C.

With just hours to go until election day, the Presidential call went out to up to 20 thousand undecided voters. Hawaii's Democratic candidates, including Neil Abercrombie, Colleen Hanabusa, and Daniel Inouye, were part of the conference called and dialed into, possibly, the biggest endorsement of their campaigns.

"Hello, everybody!" said the President Obama. "Aloha, Mr. President. It's Neil Abercrombie here," the gubernatorial candidate answered.

President Obama directed his comments to voters on the line. "I think you understand tomorrow's election is every bit as important as the election in 2008. Everybody's got to, not just vote, but bring your friends and co-workers to vote, whether you're in Hilo or Lihue, Wailuku or Mililani … The issues facing Hawaii are the same on every island, across the state, and across the nation."

Andy Winer, the 'Get Out the Vote' coordinator for Hawaii's Democratic party says,"It's probably his last call of the campaign season, his last campaign effort, and so, we think it's pretty extraordinary that he selected his home state to make that call."

Democrats say to expect an army of volunteers to canvas the islands Tuesday - in an effort to net those last-minute, undecided voters. With a toss-up Congressional race in the first district and the Governor's office at stake, the candidates know they've got just a few hours to make their case.

First Congressional district candidate, Colleen Hanabusa, says, "Hawaii really is a special place and this is a critical election because it's going to define who we are and the Hawaii that we see in the future."

Hundreds of Democrats have been canvassing neighborhoods, scheduling rides to election sites, and opening up phone lines. "This election's very important. We're counting on your vote so please vote Democratic," says one phone bank volunteer.

As the hours tick down, the candidates are trying to reach as many people as possible and doing their final meet-and-greets. In downtown Honolulu during lunch hour, gubernatorial candidate, Neil Abercrombie, said, tongue-in-cheek, "Well, if you're still undecided, it's not our fault! It's not for lack of effort on our part to try to get the effort of embracing change out there!"

Democrats say they'll have 300 people going door-to-door Tuesday and hundreds more manning the phones. They pledge to campaign all the way until the polls close.

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