Elizabeth Santorum spoke to many Hawaii reporters during her visit leading up to the March 13 GOP Caucus (Photo by Kimo Sutton)
Ronnie Paul and his wife, Peggy

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Ronnie Paul, Elizabeth Santorum and Matt Romney are meeting with supporters across the island of Oahu today hoping to rally more votes for their favorite presidential candidate – their father – before tonight’s GOP Caucus.

The polls, located at 41 different sites across the state, will open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the first-ever GOP caucus of its kind.

This past Sunday, Ronnie Paul, whose father, Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, is on the GOP ballot in Hawaii, met with almost 200 supporters at a Waikiki hotel. He said in an interview with Hawaii Reporter he made the trip here to thank the many “very very enthusiastic supporters” of his father’s campaign. “We felt it would be right, fair and good to come to meet with them,” Ronnie Paul said.

Ron Paul’s main message, that his oldest son reinforced while in the islands, is how critical it is to cut spending, balance the budget and get our nation’s debt under control. “We don’t feel the other candidates and those in Washington realize how serious the problem is,” Ronnie Paul said.

This is Ron Paul’s second time running for president, but this campaign has triple the momentum, triple the supporters and triple the number of voters backing him, Ronnie Paul said.

“The monetary economic crisis my father has talked about for 40 years has come to pass,” said Ronnie Paul, noting his father is recognized as the foremost expert on monetary policy.

While Ron Paul’s supporters are diverse, many are young voters. “The younger generation starting to recognize how serious our nation’s debt and that they are the ones who will have to live with it,” Ronnie Paul said. The active U.S military also is donating to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign at a much higher rate than that of the other candidates, he said.

“They want their bullets and their guns, and to go on their mission, to get it done and then come home,” Ronnie Paul said.

Ronnie Paul said the entire family is backing Ron Paul’s presidential bid, and are helping on the campaign trail. That includes 5 children, 18 grand children and 5 great grandchildren. Ronnie Paul, who traveled here with his wife Peggy, said their three daughters also help out, including one daughter who took the year off from school to travel with her grandfather throughout the country.

They all know the consistent philisophical message they share on the campaign trail is “America has a real debt problem that we cannot continue to ignore.”

Elizabeth Santorum spoke to many Hawaii reporters during her visit leading up to the March 13 GOP Caucus (Photo by Kimo Sutton)

Elizabeth Santorum, who took up the local tradition of waving at passing drivers while holding campaign signs,  attended a number of other fundraising and media events for her father, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania. She also took a tour of the state capitol.

The 20-year-old took her junior year off from school to help her father campaign in all 50 states. “I am here for the caucus to help get people excited, and remind them their vote matters. This is a critical time in our nation’s history and history is being made here,” she said in an interview with Hawaii Reporter.

She said her father’s message of limited government and more freedom resonates with people everywhere.

Elizabeth Santorum pointed out the difference she sees between her father’s campaign, and that of his closest rival, Former Massachutts Governor Mitt Romney. She said her father did not support Wall Street bail outs, “Obamacare” (or “Romneycare”) and “the cap and trade fiasco.”

“My father has articulated a vision and can strike the clear contrast we need between himself and President Obama,” she said.

One of Rick Santorum’s major focuses besides getting the nation’s debt and spending under control, is stopping Obamacare. “He says this is about fundamental freedom. Once you are dependent upon government for a benefit in your life, it is a game changer. America will be a different country. We will be the country that let our freedom go, and let the light of freedom go out,” Elizabeth Santorum said.

The oldest of 7 children, Elizabeth said her entire family is involved in her father’s campaign. Her mother, who manages the family, travels with her father and independently, and spent the weekend in two key states, Mississippi and Alabama, which have primary elections today. Her younger brother, 19, is traveling with her father now. (Update: And good news for their family: Rick Santorum won the Alabama and Mississippi primary elections on Tuesday, March 13)

“We all try to be involved in some way in the campaign. It is a lot on the family, but we are handling it well.”

Her family, raised on having a strong faith, family and belief in freedom, also prays for the other families of presidential candidates “because they know what the others are going through.”

“There is an agreement that this is hard, and we appreciate each other,” Elizabeth Santorum said, noting there is a harmony among the GOP families.

She has had a great reception in Hawaii, often referred to as President Barack Obama’s home state, with people honking and waving at Rick Santorum sign waving volunteers as they drive by.

“This is very exciting. This is a critical point in Hawaii and the GOP has a voice right now.”

With all the experiences these candidate’s children have had, will they enter politics?

Ronnie Paul plans to stick to his engineering profession, he told supporters on Sunday, while Elizabeth Santorum, who is majoring in politics, said she is unsure what her future holds.

“This has been a wonderful experience our parents have blessed us with. We see the good and bad, the hard and good parts of politics and the sacrifice it entails. You have to be called to serve. … I am just taking it one day at a time here.”

Matt Romney also met with supporters in the islands since arriving on Monday. He was at the GOP headquarters on Tuesday and met with many in the Mormon community on Oahu’s North Shore on Monday evening. He could not be reached for comment.

No one from the Newt Gingrich campaign is in the islands, though Newt and his wife Callista are frequent visitors to Maui.

While here in Hawaii, Ronnie Paul picked up an endorsement for his father’s campaign from the Hawaii Bar Owners Association.

Matt Romney learned his father would be endorsed by several Republicans formerly in office, including former Congressman Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, former Congresswoman Pat Saiki, former state Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings, and former State Senator Fred Rohlfing.

This is the first time Hawaii’s GOP will hold this type of event, which allows all state Republicans to vote for their favorite presidential candidate and add to the national delegate total count.

Hawaii is not a winner take all state, rather candidates are rewarded by their total vote count. The higher the turn out the more competition for the 17 delegate votes that will help candidates nationally get the presidential nomination.

Those unhappy with the four candidates – Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum – are able to write in their own favorite candidate’s name.

David Chang, executive director of the Republican Party of Hawaii, said those wanting to participate in the Republican caucus on Tuesday should go to their assigned voting location.

There are 41 locations in all counties that are tied to the state’s 51 election districts and all are listed on the Republican Party of Hawaii web site located here: http://www.gophawaii.com/presidential-caucus-locations/

A Hawaii state identification such as a driver’s license or state ID is required, Chang said, and those already not registered as Republicans can become a party member on the spot.

If the voter has moved and that address is different than that on the state identification, Chang said a utility bill to document the new address is required.

Initial results will be announced late Tuesday evening but the final tally may change after ballots arrive from the neighbor islands by FedEx, Chang said.

The candidates will be awarded delegates depending on the outcome of the primaries and caucuses. The winner will need to woo 1,144 delegates to win the Republican nomination. The winning presidential candidate will be announced in August at the National GOP convention in Tampa, Florida, and that nominee will take on President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the November General election.

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