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Obama backers make a statement

Supporters hold first of 2 Kaua‘i events

by Michael Levine – The Garden Island

HANALEI — Some 100 supporters of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama rallied yesterday at the historic Hanalei bridge as part of the Bridges for Obama — Yes, We Span! grassroots initiative that aims to gather photos of Obama fans from around the world.

Bevin Parker-Evans, who helped organize the event locally, addressed the crowd just before they stopped traffic and blocked both lanes for the photo opportunity.

“If you don’t know what the grassroots are, take a smell,” Parker-Evans excitedly said. “We are the people we’ve been waiting for!”

The Bridges for Obama organization said it selected bridges as an ideal symbol of Obama’s candidacy because of their uniting effect and ability to “bring together opposing sides.”

To date, it has organized events on some 76 bridges in 36 countries on the continents of Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and North America.

“When you pass over the bridge, the community makes a statement,” Hanalei resident Diane Daniells said. “The main thing it symbolizes for me is that this is the gateway to our community, which has so much aloha. (Obama) is coming from a large background, but he’s also going to be able to help the small towns.”

Carol Ann Davis-Briant, a professional photographer from the South Shore, said she was providing her services for free because she is an Obama supporter.

The photos will be sent to the Bridges for Obama campaign and be shown at the Democratic National Convention later this month in Denver, she said.

Terese Barich, who was in charge of collecting signed waivers required for participation in the event, said that around 100 people had joined in, including children, families and a pair of visitors from Italy who told her that even though they could not vote in the election, they hoped for an Obama victory.

Other attendees included state Rep. Hermina Morita, D-14th District, who said she was there not as a politician but just as another Obama supporter, and Michael Fox, who will be one of nine delegates from Hawai‘i, and the only from Kaua‘i, at the Democratic National Convention.

Custom-made Obama T-shirts commemorating the event were sold and other promotional items such as placards and bumper stickers were available in exchange for donations, with the proceeds going to the Kaua‘i for Obama group, which hopes to organize more events before the election, Parker-Evans said.

Andy Winer, chairman of the Hawai‘i Obama campaign, said he was unaware of any plans for Obama to visit Kaua‘i.

Honolulu-born Obama is currently on O‘ahu making a rare presidential candidate visit to the state, which has only four electoral votes at stake in the general election on Nov. 4.

Obama took his family and friends to visit the Valley of the Temples, which friends say he often visited when he was younger, according an Associated Press report yesterday. Obama and his family stopped at the Aloha Tropical Farm which grows macadamia nuts as they headed to the North Shore for an evening barbecue at a high school friend’s house.

Supporters will have another opportunity to congregate later this week.

On Sunday, the Kaua‘i Democratic Party is hosting a Kaua‘i for Obama Rally from 5 to 7 p.m. at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School cafeteria in Lihu‘e.

At the event, guest speakers such as Winer and state Sen. Gary Hooser, the honorary chairman of the Obama campaign for Kaua‘i, will help instruct volunteers how they can best organize their local efforts on a variety of issues.

For more information, call Janice Bond at 639-9201 or visit my.barackobama.com.

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