Supporters rally for Trump ahead of Hawaii Republican caucus

Published: Mar. 7, 2016 at 2:54 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2016 at 10:54 AM HST
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Nathan Paikai (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)
Nathan Paikai (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)
Kimo Sutton (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)
Kimo Sutton (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)
Colin Moore (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)
Colin Moore (Image Source: Hawaii News Now)

MAKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - With less than two days before the Hawaii Republican caucus, the Trump campaign held its first rally in Hawaii today.

More than two dozen supporters and volunteers attended the meeting at Makiki District Park to help organize the campaign's last-minute, get-out-the-vote push.

"The Trump train is moving," said Nathan Paikai, who helped organize the rally.

Added co-organizer Kimo Sutton: "He's bringing new people in to the Republic Party. That is, Democrats, independents and people who haven't voted before. These are the kinds of people we're getting calls to and from to help volunteer."

There are 16 delegate seats up for grabs in Tuesday's caucus. It's less than one percent of the 2,400 delegates around the country. But with this year's nomination still in play, every statewide race counts.

"There does seem to be even here this groundswell of support for him. He has the most name recognition and none of the other candidates have campaigned out here," said University of Hawaii Political Science Professor Colin Moore.  "So I suspect he's going to do very well."

But Moore says the flip-side is Trump's extremist rhetoric, which could turn off many of Hawaii's more moderate Republicans.

"Now you have a candidate who really has flirted dangerously with the racism and xenophobia -- the very sorts of things that may turn off moderate voters in Hawaii,"  Moore said.  "It can take (Republicans) years and years and years for them to overcome the image of Donald Trump winning the Hawaii Republican Caucus."

Trump's rivals, like Florida's Marco Rubio, are hoping to capitalize on that potential disconnect with Hawaii voters by running prime time ads.  And early Sunday, Sam Slom, Hawaii's only Republican in the state Senate, endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

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