Obama Records Robocall to Boost Turnout in Hawaii Special

Posted May 4, 2010 at 2:51pm

President Barack Obama has recorded a robocall encouraging voters to pick a Democrat in the Hawaii special election — but he doesn’t give them any guidance in choosing between former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.

It is widely known that national Democrats favor Case, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee thought about officially endorsing him in the winner-take-all, vote-by-mail election ending May 22.

But in recording the robocall, Obama made sure not to show any preference between the two candidates. The call is designed to boost voter participation in the heavily Democratic Honolulu-based 1st district, which is where Obama spent his formative years and where he remains extremely popular.

Polls have shown that because the Democratic vote is split between the two well-known Democrats, Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou (R) stands a good chance of picking up the seat of former Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D).

A report Tuesday night on Politico’s website quoted an anonymous senior White House official saying that Case is the candidate who has the best chance of holding the seat. That notion was reinforced by a poll conducted for the Democratic National Committee being circulating by top Democratic officials that shows Case and Hanabusa splitting the Democratic vote, with Case having more support than Hanabusa.

But a transcript of Obama’s taped call provided by party officials shows a neutral Obama asking voters to support “a Democrat.”

“Aloha, this is President Barack Obama on behalf of the Democratic Party,” Obama says in the recorded phone call. “As you know, there is an election for Congress taking place, and your support for a Democrat is crucial for us to continue pushing forward our agenda for change. I need a Democrat that will support my agenda in Congress. I need someone that will hold Wall Street and the big special interests accountable. It’s crucial that you vote and that you vote Democratic. In the next couple of days, an actual ballot will come directly to you in the mail, and all you need to do is fill it in, sign the envelope and mail it back. Voting is that easy. I hope we can we count on you to return your ballot as soon as you get it. Your vote matters. Thanks so much. Bye-bye.”

The Honolulu Advertiser first reported that the president was recording robocalls in his home district. According to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman, the committee paid for the call.