Exclusive: Obama's Sweeties quietly campaign for former Punahou classmate Part 1 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Exclusive: Obama's Sweeties quietly campaign for former Punahou classmate Part 1

Robyn Tanaka Robyn Tanaka
Cathie Chung Richardson Cathie Chung Richardson
Kelli Furushima Kelli Furushima
Bernice Bowers Bernice Bowers

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

MCCULLY (KHNL) - While many people at Oahu's Punahou School celebrate Barack Obama Presidential run, there's one special group getting an extra dose of satisfaction. Obama's Sweeties partied with Hawaii's Democratic leaders at the Pearl Ultra Lounge Tuesday night.

Unlike a certain mainland reporter covering the candidate in the early part of the campaign, the women don't mind being called Sweeties. After decades apart, the now tight-knit group of Punahou graduates came together to help out a guy they knew as Barry.

Gather up old photos,

"Look at what we used to wear," Bernice Bowers, Obama's Punahou classmate, said while laughing.

and these women start giggling like they were back in school again.

"It was really getting together and reminiscing about us as a class," Bowers said.

Nearly 30 years after their high school graduation, six members of Punahou's class of 1979, along with their class dean, reconnected and decided to help out an old classmate. That classmate just happened to be Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

"It's hard for us to call him Barack," Robyn Tanaka, Obama's Punahou classmate, said. "We've known him as Barry."

"Even as a teenager, he was humble," Kelli Furushima, Obama's Punahou classmate, said. "He was considerate. He was thoughtful. He was funny."

They took on the name Obama's Sweeties after the Senator caught heat for calling a female reporter 'Sweetie' early in the campaign.

"A lot of people seemed to take offense at that," Lorena Garwood, Obama's Punahou classmate, said. "And we kind of laughed about it because we thought, oh my God, if only he would call us Sweetie."

Happily staying under the radar, the small group has accomplished big things. From hosting informational meetings and a bowling tournament, to selling 500 silicone bracelets with Obama's message of hope and change,

"They were affordable and functional," Tanaka said. "And we thought, you know, if a vendor makes those and keeps all the money, we could make those and donate all the money."

as well as 500 organic cotton bags featuring the places around the world Barry has been, the women have raised more than $11,000 and spread enthusiasm for their favorite candidate.

"We knew out of our own pockets, we might not be able to give a lot," Lisa Choy Tamura, Obama's Punahou classmate, said. "But if we do these little things, that it would all be to support him."

Now, that funny kid who played basketball, sang in the choir and wrote for the school newspaper could become our nation's leader.

"You don't think you're in school in sixth grade with somebody who's going to be President one day," Garwood said. "And that thought just blows my mind every time I think about it."

The Sweeties hoped for a win. They have a destination in mind for their 30-year class reunion next summer. Where else but the White House?

"We figured if he wins, we have an in," Tanaka said while laughing. "So we're going to be able to go there and have a little party."

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