Even as Barack Obama takes eight days off from the campaign trail to vacation in Hawaii, where he lived for much of his youth, the Republican National Committee is again attempting to paint the Democrat as an out-of-touch elitist, this time in a mock “Barack Obama’s Hawaii Travel Guide” tweaking the Democrat for having attended an elite prep school there.
“Barack Obama’s Hawaii Travel Guide,” e-mailed to reporters on Friday, lists four "destinations," among them the beach locals claim is the one where Obama was photographed in his swim trunks in a shot that ran in People magazine early last year, and "Punahou School, a coeducational college preparatory day school" that Obama attended "from 1971 to 1979. The school campus covers 76 acres at the edge of the Manoa Valley."
Obama, raised by a singe mother, entered the prestigious school at age ten on a scholarship. “No one means to demean the academic successes of Barack Obama or the schools he attended,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. “The RNC and this campaign have sought to simply point out that on his Hawaii travels, there are certain landmarks reporters will likely see and this was a way to put those on the map.”
Obama's elite schooling may prove a risky topic for McCain, who attended St. Stephen’s, an exclusive school in Alexandria, Va., and then Episcopal High, a private boarding school in the same city, in the 1950s. The son and grandson of Navy admirals, he ended up at the Naval Academy, where, as he often reminds voters, he finished near the bottom of his graduating class.
“While John McCain went to private school, he also went to public university,” said Bounds. “The Naval Academy is as public as public gets,” he added, noting that a four-year military commitment is required following school.
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to comment on the latest iteration of a subject previously raised by Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Hillary Rodham Clinton backer who attended a public school down the road from Punahou, and who cracked before the state's primary that the private school “was not school for the impoverished.”
Obama reportedly responded that he had attended on scholarship and added, “Shame on Danny for trying to pull that stunt."