Exclusive: Obama's Sweeties quietly campaign for former Punahou classmate Part 2 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Exclusive: Obama's Sweeties quietly campaign for former Punahou classmate Part 2

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

MCCULLY (KHNL) - They avoided the limelight because they say they didn't want to do anything to detract from their friend, Barry. Now, Obama's Sweeties, a small group of graduates from Oahu's Punahou School, breaks its silence.

Unlike a certain mainland reporter covering the candidate in the early part of the campaign, the women don't mind being called Sweeties.

Six women, their high school class dean,

"Thirty years after they've graduated, I can still be with them, you know, because we have a common purpose," Paula Kurashige, Punahou's class of 1979 dean, said.

and a funny guy named Barry.

"When people ask do you know he was going to be, you know, did you think he was going to be President, he wasn't that brainy guy that was winning all the awards," Robyn Tanaka, Obama's Punahou classmate, said. "So no, you don't think that. But I think what you did know about him is that he was very well-rounded."

After going off and starting their own careers and families, six members of Punahou's class of '79 reconnected and decided to help out an old classmate, Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

"I read an article in the New Yorker magazine. I was really impressed with that," Cathie Chung Richardson, Obama's Punahou classmate, said. "And his anti-war speech and stance really appealed to me. So we all sort of came to find him independently."

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

"It's better than the earlier versions of like the Barrettes or the Obama Moms," Kelli Furushima, Obama's Punahou classmate, said while laughing.

Shunning the spotlight, the small group quietly hosted informational meetings and a bowling tournament,

"We've sort of really gotten engaged looking at the issues, learning what a caucus even is, you know, holding outreach sessions to teach people what voting records look like," Bernice Bowers, Obama's Punahou classmate, said.

and made bracelets, key chains and organic cotton bags to raise money for their favorite candidate.

"It's amazing how many people we've been able to reach," Lorena Garwood, Obama's Punahou classmate, said. "And that excitement and that hopefulness is really very contagious."

"Could you give us a ballpark on how much you folks have been able to raise for this campaign?" this reporter asked.

"More than $11,000," Tanaka replied.

With a little help from his Sweeties,

"A former Punahou student, your classmate, could become the President of the United States," this reporter told the group.

"It's crazy. Mind-boggling," the women responded.

"To know that someone with Hawaii values, who knows how to really highlight diversity as a strength and who can bring people together from disparate thoughts, that's really I think what is chicken skin for all of us," Bowers said.

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