Obama Reconnects with Home State

January 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
President Obama is facing increasing criticism from republicans who say he hasn't responded strongly enough to the terror threat but some of his old friends are coming to his defense.

They're his high school classmates who knew him long before he took the national stage.

In between intelligence briefings, the president carved out time to reconnect with his home state, indulging in local delicacies like "shave ice" and other frozen treats.

"The ice cream starts melting with the syrup, makes kind of a mess down at the bottom," said President Obama.

Turns out Mr. Obama used to be on the other side of the counter, a part-time job in high school scooping ice cream at a Baskin Robbins in Honolulu, and old friends reluctantly admitted the future president used to give them some free stuff.

"I think the statute of limitations has passed."

"Okay great. Okay he gave us some," said his old classmate.

Larry Tavares has fond memories of the classmate at Punahou High School he used to body-surf with.

"I didn't even know his real name was Barack to tell you the truth, it was Barry to us, so when he said Barack, we said oh and kind of raised our eyebrows a little bit and said okay that's cool," said Tavares.

They played together on the basketball team that won the State Championship in 1979.

Larry was point guard, Barry the power forward.

"He was real physical, not scared to mix it up. I guess if you equate that to being the president, he's not scared to do something, make a decision," said Tevares.

Many high school acquaintances like Bart DaSilva lost touch with "Barry" so they were blown away in 2004 by his stirring Democratic Convention speech and election night left many of them in tears.

"I got more and more excited I couldn't believe this moment that had months and months had been leading into was actually becoming a reality. And as everybody waited for the president-elect to make his speech after being elected it just became again, I use the word surreal," said DaSilva.

And they're fiercely protective of their friend -- and get pretty fired up by all of the attacks from critics.

"You can take it so much and then let's go outside and throw the gloves off and let's settle this outside is how I really feel. But you know that's not gonna happen, so I think people just have to be a little bit more patient with him. He's doing the best he can."


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