Neil Abercrombie

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Neil Abercrombie

Template:30seconds Neil Abercrombie was a covertly socialist Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives 1st district of Hawaii, until he resigned in early 2010 to seek the Governorship of Hawaii.

He is married to Dr. Nancie Caraway, a one time member of Democratic Socialists of America.

Early life

Neil grew up in Buffalo, New York. a city with" strict ethnic and religious divides".

He often got into fights to defend himself and others for having the “wrong” background. In his childhood, Neil also saw Lake Erie literally die over time from pollution. He saw the city’s entire population of elm trees wiped by disease. From an early age, Neil formed a strong desire to right things that were wrong.

He attended Union College, a small men’s college in New York State. When he decided to go on to graduate school to study sociology, he turned to the University of Hawaii, attracted by the Islands’ reputation for social diversity and the adventure of studying in a place that was about to become America’s newest state.[1]

Coming to Hawaii

Neil Abercrombie arrived in Hawaii a month after statehood, in September 1959, to study at UH Manoa where he earned a masters degree in sociology and later a Ph.D. in American studies. To support himself, Neil worked as a waiter at Chuck's Steak House in Waikiki, a locker desk clerk at the Central YMCA, a custodian at Mother Rice Preschool, a construction apprentice program director, an elementary school teacher and a college lecturer.[2]

Part of the Obama "set"

While attending the University of Hawaii in the early 1960s, Neil Abercrombie was part of a circle that included Barak Obama and Stanley Ann Dunham, the parents of future U.S. president Barack Obama[3].

The self-assured and opinionated Obama spoke with a voice so deep that "he made James Earl Jones seem like a tenor," said Neil Abercrombie, a Democratic congressman from Hawaii who was part of those regular gatherings.
Although he didn't say it at the time, Abercrombie privately feared that the relationship would be short-lived. Obama was one of the most ambitious, self-focused men he had ever met. After Obama was accepted to study at Harvard, Stanley Ann disappeared from the University of Hawaii student gatherings, but she did not accompany her husband to Harvard. Abercrombie said he rarely saw her after that.
"I know he loved Ann," Abercrombie said, but "I think he didn't want the impediment of being responsible for a family. He expected great things of himself and he was going off to achieve them."[4]

The marriage failed. Stanley Ann filed for divorce in 1964 and remarried two years later, when her son was 5. The senior Obama finished his work at Harvard and returned to Kenya, where he hoped to realize his big dreams of taking a place in the Kenyan government.

Years later, Abercrombie and another grad school friend looked up their old friend during a trip through Africa[5].

At that point, the senior Obama was a bitter man, according to the congressman, feeling that he had been denied due opportunities to influence the running of his country. "He was drinking too much; his frustration was apparent," Abercrombie said.
To Abercrombie's surprise, Obama never asked about his ex-wife or his son.

Abercrombie remains a friend to both Obama Jr. and his half sister Maya Soertoro. He was among the guests in attendance at Soertoro's wedding on December 28, 2003 along with then State Senator Barack Obama.[6]

Supporting Obama junior

Barack Obama, Neil Abercrombie

Neil Abercrombie would become one of the first people in the nation to support their son, Barack Obama, in his historic candidacy for president. He served as the honorary chair of the Hawaii Obama Campaign.[7]

Abercrombie also served as an Obama surrogate, "campaigning for Barack across the state of Iowa" before the 2008 first in that nation caucus.[8]


In the 1960s Neil Abercrombie was a supporter of the anti-American, left wing Students for a Democratic Society.

Abercrombie was then an avowed Marxist and anti-free market advocate.

For example, talk to any Hawaii Vietnam era veteran-any one- and they will remind you that Abercrombie spewed invectives and hatred toward American troops during Vietnam. He participated in, and led, several rallies against our troops and country. He openly sided during the Vietnam War with the North Vietnamese.
At one time, Abercrombie ranked so low in Vietnam veterans’ eyes, that he was compared to Jane Fonda in the widely held perception of helping our enemy.[9]

Senate campaign

In 1970, motivated by opposition to the Vietnam War, "Neil made a bold and unlikely bid for the U.S. Senate against Republican Senator Hiram Fong."

Neil’s colorful campaign as “Super Senator” has become a legendary part of Hawaii’s political history. Fong won, but Neil’s political career was launched. It was clear that Neil was a man willing to stand up for what was right against any interest, no matter how powerful or entrenched. Now began the work of collaboration and reaching out to earn people’s trust and faith.

Political beginnings


In 1974, Abercrombie ran for the State House of Representatives in Makiki-Manoa.

He walked the neighborhood relentlessly, often visiting families two or three times to introduce himself and to talk about issues. His primary focus in that campaign was the prevention of overdevelopment in Makiki and Manoa. He focused on the need to conserve our water supply and protect our watersheds.

During the campaign, Democratic Party leader Nadao Yoshinaga endorsed Neil. As Neil remembers: “Here was a political visionary giving a long-haired haole boy from Manoa a chance. Nadao became my mentor in public service. To him it was always about what’s on the inside. He is my hero and role model to this day.”

Abercrombie was elected and served in the State House of Representatives from 1975 to 1979 and in the State Senate from 1979 to 1986. He earned a reputation as a tenacious fighter for the interests of the people. Neil helped elderly depositors regain their life savings when Manoa Finance collapsed. He helped start the award-winning Healthy Start prevention program for at-risk mothers and children.

In 1986, Neil Abercrombie won a special election to Congress to fill the unexpired term of Congressman Cec Heftel. He was the last person sworn in by Speaker Tip O’Neill. He returned home to serve as Special Assistant to the Superintendent of Education where he helped implement Hawaii’s distance-learning programs.

Abercrombie was elected to serve on the Honolulu City Council from 1988 to 1990. He was one of the leading advocates, along with then-mayor Frank Fasi, of a rail transit system in Honolulu.[10]

Rainbow Coalition

In the late 1980s, Neil Abercrombie was a Rainbow Coalition member.


In 1990, Neil Abercrombie was elected to return to Congress and represent Hawaii’s first Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. As chairman of the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, Neil built strong relationships with Democrats and Republicans to improve the quality of life for the men and women of the armed forces. In 2009, Neil received the Harry S. Truman Award—the highest honor given by the National Guard Association of the United States—for “sustained contributions of exceptional and far-reaching magnitude to the defense and security of the United States.”

As a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee, "Neil worked to protect our national parks, forests, wilderness areas, oceans, natural resources, and the interests of the indigenous peoples of our nation. He was instrumental in the establishment of a humpback whale sanctuary in Hawaii."

In Congress, Neil Abercrombie "helped to secure billions of dollars for the Islands in sectors from high-tech to health and education. Neil has shepherded full funding for every Honolulu rail transit project of the last twenty years, including the current rail proposal."[11]

Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Neil Abercrombie in his successful House of Representatives run as candidate for Hawaii.[12]

DSA connections

Neil Abercrombie has close ties to the marxist based Democratic Socialists of America. However his office has been consistently denying his association and membership with the organization. On July 14, 2010, his office published a statement in response to blogger Trevor Loudon's article in which he exposed evidence that Abercrombie had been a member of the DSA:[13]

QUESTION: Was Neil a member of the Democratic Socialists of America or any other socialist or communist organization?
ANSWER: NO. Neil has never been part of any socialist or communist organization. These rumors are being spread by Neil’s political opponents and conspiracy theorists including those behind the so-called “birther” movement who continually claim that President Obama was not born in the U.S.

However despite their denial, the evidence speaks for itself:

DSA membership confirmed

Early 1980s, DSA Hawaii membership list

The names of Neil Abercrombie, his wife Nancie Caraway, and that of Hawaiian state politician Roland Kotani, appeared on an early 1980s Honolulu Democratic Socialists of America membership list.

DSA wife

In 1985, Neil Abercrombie's wife Dr. Nancie Caraway of Hawaii was listed as a member of the Feminist Commission of the Democratic Socialists of America.[14]

DSA member

From Democratic Left, Nov./Dec. 1990, page 4

In 1990 the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed two Congressional candidates, "DSAer Democrat" Neil Abercrombie seeking to regain the House seat representing Honolulu and Vermont independent candidate Bernie Sanders.[15]

Speech to DSA

Sept/Oct Democratic Left, 1992

In 1992 Abercrombie gave an "extemporaneous, impassioned speech" to an explicitly D.S.A. organized "Socialist Caucus" during that year's Democratic Party convention.[16] The other speakers at the Socialist Caucus, Cornel West, Bob Fitrakis and Ed Vargas were all confirmed members of Democratic Socialists of America.

DSA "Economic Insecurity" meeting

In 1995, DC/MD/Northern VA. Democratic Socialists of America co-sponsored the first of DSA's national series of town meetings on economic security. This hearing was held in a church on September 27 and was scheduled to feature three members of Congress: Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Maxine Waters (D-CA). [17]

DSA endorsement

In July 1996, the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii 1 , in that year's Congressional elections.[18]

21st Century Democrats support

21st Century Democrats is a Political Action Committee that has stood for Progressive causes for over 20 years. Founded in 1986 by Institute for Policy Studies affiliate, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Democratic Socialists of America affiliates, former Texas Agriculture Secretary Jim Hightower, and former Illinois Congressman Lane Evans. Its three main goals are to help elect progressive candidates, train young people about grassroots organizing, and lastly, to continue to support our elected officials after Election Day "through our comprehensive progressive network".

Long time Board chair was Democratic Socialists of America member Jim Scheibel, a former Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The mission of 21st Century Democrats is to build a "farm team" of progressive populists who will be the future leaders of the Democratic Party.

In each election cycle, we endorse a diverse array of candidates who exemplify our values and show unusual promise to advance our progressive goals. We invest in some of the most competitive races as well as in some of the most challenging – those in which the candidates are outstanding but the traditional Democratic supporters are most reticent. We back candidates in primaries as well as general election races, and we focus the bulk of our resources on electing challengers and protecting vulnerable incumbents.[19]

Abercrombie was endorsed by 21st Century Democrats in the 1998 election cycle.[20]

DSA event

In 2006 Neil Abercrombie and Dennis Kucinich spoke at a Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee event in Washington DC at the home of Stewart Mott, for Bernie Sanders[21].

The questions and comments actually had to be cut off to let Bernie get to the plane.
He flew to Washington and the next day attended the Washington, D.C., DSA PAC party at the home of Stewart Mott. Not only did Bernie Sanders speak; so did members of Congress Neil Abercrombie (HI) and Dennis Kucinich (OH). Christine Riddiough, former DSA National Director, served as host/ moderator

DSA aide

George Roberts, a Democratic Socialists of America member, was at one time an aide to Neil Abercrombie.[22]

Congressional Progressive Caucus

In 1998 Neil Abercrombie Democrat was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[23]

As of February 20 2009 Neil Abercrombie was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[24]

Clinton/Pinochet letter

On October 21, 1998, many Members of Congress wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, urging him to release information to a Spanish judge investigating former Chilean President Pinochet for alleged crimes committed during and after the overthrow of the Marxist Allende government.

Dear Mr. President:
The October 17 arrest of General Augusto Pinochet in London is a good example of how the goals you outlined in your anti-terrorism speech at the United Nations can be put into practice. Indeed, when the rule oflaw is applied to combat international lawlessness,humanity's agenda gains...we call upon you to ensure that the U.S. government provides Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon material related to Pinochet's role in international terrorism -- material and testimony that the U.S. government has thus far withheld.

Signatories included Rep. Neil Abercrombie.[25]

Clinton/Chile letter

February 24, 2000, 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a letter to President Clinton requesting full U.S. cooperation with the Spanish case against former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, a thorough investigation into the car-bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier and American citizen Ronni Moffitt, and the release of all U.S. documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Chile.

Dear President Clinton,
We would like to take this opportunity to commend your Administration's recent activity concerning the ongoing investigation into former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet's role in the 1976 car bombing of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C. We also appreciate your efforts to release documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Chile.

Signatories were George Miller (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Conyers (D-MI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Lane Evans (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Tim Roemer (D- IN), Howard Berman (D-CA), John Olver (D-MA), Mel Watt (D- NC), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Patsy Mink (D-HI), Marcy Kaptur (D- OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Tierney (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Martin Sabo (D-MN), and Bob Filner (D-CA).[26]

2006 letter to Condoleezza Rice on Colombia

Alleged Colombian Army killings prompted Fellowship of Reconciliation to work with Representative Sam Farr to forge a response that would impact the 17th Brigade, the unit allegedly responsible for the violence against San José de Apartadó and communities throughout northwestern Colombia.

As a result, Reps. Sam Farr and Jim McGovern, wrote a letter to their colleagues in Congress urging them to join in calling on Secretary Condoleezza Rice to cut funding for the Colombian military.

Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
(Deadline for Congressional representatives to sign: February 22)
We applaud the decision, noted in your certification letter of August 2005, that the US "will not consider providing assistance to the 17th Brigade until all significant human rights allegations involving the unit have been credibly addressed." Because the Brigade is a component of the Colombian Armed Forces' command structure and has been implicated in the above referenced human rights violations, we implore you to abide by both the letter of the law and the spirit of the law by withholding human rights certification for Colombia until the following conditions are met:

Signatories included Neil Abercrombie.[27]

Discussions with Gerry Adams

Following discussions March 16, 2006 with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams a number of senior US representatives agreed to lobby the British government to reconvene the Assembly in the short term.

The Sinn Fein President held a lengthy series of discussions yesterday with leading Congressional and Senate representatives.

Among the Congress members he spoke to where James Walsh, Richard Neal, Carolyn McCarthy, Marty Meehan, Peter King, Chris Smyth, Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, Tim Murphy, Mike Capuano, Frank Pallone, Neil Abercrombie and others.

Mr. Adams also had a brief meeting with Senator John Kerry, and held two separate meetings with Senators Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd and Senator Hillary Clinton.

A Sinn Fein spokesperson described all of the meetings as "very positive and constructive. The conversations concentrated on the need to make progress and on our proposals for breaking the logjam. This means movement by the British and Irish government‚s before the summer and well in advance of the marching season.[28]

Calling on Israeli Govt. to lift Gaza Travel Ban

On Dec. 22, 2009, thirty-three U.S. Representatives wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling on her to request that the Israeli Government end the ban on student travel from Gaza to the West Bank. Neil Abercrombie was one of the signatories of the letter.[29] The entire letter together with a complete list of signatories can be read by clicking here.

Gay Pride March

The 2010, 20th annual Honolulu gay pride parade drew the support of only a handful of politicians.

“This is a democratic principle of a representative democracy,” said state Rep. Lyla Berg, a Democrat running for lieutenant governor. “As a mother and an educator, I know how important self-esteem is in a young person’s life. It cannot be underestimated.”

State Sen. Gary Hooser, another Democrat in the race for lieutenant governor, said he participates in many parades, including for military veterans and the Fourth of July.

Political figures who did turn out in support of gay pride included Dante Carpenter, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, and former congressman Neil Abercrombie, who is running for governor.

Eric Gill, the secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE! Local 5, participated in the parade, as did former Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson, who in 1993 wrote in Baehr v. Lewin that the state needed to demonstrate a “compelling state interest” for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Thanks for coming out today,” Abercrombie said to the audience at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand, the parade’s terminus. He then laughed, catching the apparently unintended double meaning of his greeting.

Michael Golojuch, Jr., a coordinator for the Honolulu GLBT Pride Parade, said Gov. Linda Lingle was invited to the event by PFLAG Oahu, the event’s fiscal sponsor, but was traveling in Asia. He added that parade organizers did not want “a surrogate” in the governor’s place.

Very much in attendance, however, were state Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, Richard Turbin, an attorney running for Honolulu City Council, Rafael del Castillo, an attorney running in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District, and Blake Oshiro, the primary sponsor of House Bill 444, the civil unions measure, and one of the few openly gay lawmakers in Hawaii.[30]

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood of Hawaii, on February 16, 2013, held "our most successful gala ever" at the magnificent Monarch Room of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, attended by over 400 political and community leaders.

During dinner, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng accepted the Bette Takahashi Service Award given to Madelyn Dunham, President Barack Obama’s grandmother, posthumously. Ms. Dunham served on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Hawaii starting in 1976.

The Bette Takahashi Service Award is given in recognition of Ms. Dunham’s commitment to women’s rights, reproductive freedom, and her enormous positive influence on our President in his formative years. During the presentation, guests watched a tribute video from President Obama, Love and Values of a Quiet Hero , produced by Rai Saint Chu, Gala Advisory Committee Chair.

Rep. Marilyn Lee, Governor Neil Abercrombie, Senator Mazie Hirono, Senator Brian Schatz, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell attended the event. Co-Chairs of the event, Chivas Nousianen and Karen McKinnie, were in attendance, as were Honorary Co-Chairs Dr. Nancie Caraway and Dr. Linda Schatz.[31]

"Caring Across America"

The Age of Dignity, Ai-jen Poo’s book about the challenge of elder care in America is "a daunting picture of need that outstrips our current capacity to meet it." Organizer of immigrant women workers, co-founder of Domestic Workers United, and Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is purpose-filled and optimistic about building what she calls the “Care Grid.” In calling for the creation of nothing less than a national infrastructure of care, Ai-jen Poo sketches out a landscape of elder care and shifting demographics that demonstrate why “a universal baseline of support” is a matter of national security that merits the level of priority the US gives to defense.

Ai-jen Poo addressed several audiences while in Honolulu, last stop on a 16 city Caring Across America tour to spark the conversations families and the broader community need to have to radically remake the way we approach elder care. She spoke to a packed room at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, at a forum hosted by the Department of Sociology and co-sponsored by the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women, the Hawai’i Immigrant Justice Center at Legal Aid, the William S. Richardson School of Law, the Women’s League of Central Union Church and Departments of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies.

Ai-jen Poo acknowledged the leadership of Dr. Nancie Caraway and Governor Neil Abercrombie, who were present for her talk, in making Hawai’i the first state after New York to adopt the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.[32]


The following have worked as staff members for Neil Abercrombie:[33]

External links



  1. [1] Abercrombie for governor website, accessed July 10, 2010
  2. [2] Abercrombie for governor website, accessed July 10, 2010
  4. Chicago Tribune, March 27, 2007
  6. Stu Glauberman, Jerry Burris, The Dream Begins: How Hawaii Shaped Barack Obama(Honolulu: Watermark Publishing, 2009)
  7. [3] Abercrombie for governor website, accessed July 10, 2010
  8. Stu Glauberman, Jerry Burris, The Dream Begins: How Hawaii Shaped Barack Obama (Honolulu: Watermark Publishing, 2009) p. vii
  9. Smart Business Hawaii, If Neil Abercrombie is Hawaii’s Next Governor, By Sam Slom, President & Executive Director of Smart Business Hawaii
  10. [4] Abercrombie for governor website, accessed July 10, 2010
  11. [5] Abercrombie for governor website, accessed July 10, 2010
  12. CLW website: Meet Our Candidates
  13. Abercrombie for Congress 2010: Get the facts on Neil Abercrombie: Debunking socialist rumors, July 14, 2010 (accessed on August 12, 2010)
  14. DSA Feminist Commission Directory, 1985
  15. Democratic Left, November/December 1990, page 4
  16. Democratic Left September/October 1992, page 20
  17. Dem. Left, Sept./Oct 1995, page 40
  18. Democratic Left, July/August 1996, page 21
  19. 21st Century Democrats website, About us]
  20. 21st Century Democrats 2006 bio
  23. DSA website: Members of the Progressive Caucus (archived on the Web Archive website)
  24. Congressional Progressive Caucus website: Caucus Member List
  25. October 21, 1998, Members Of Congress Call On Clinton To Release Key Information On Gen. Pinochet To Spanish Judge
  27. FOR February 2006 Peace Presence Update
  28. Sinn Fein, US Politicians Back Adams. 17 March, 2006
  29. John Dingell's House website: Letter to Hillary Clinton, Dec. 22, 2009
  30. [6]
  31. Planned Parenthood of HawaiiVolume 2013 Issue 1 • June 2013
  32. [7]
  33. Legistorm: Neil Abercrombie (accessed on Aug. 24, 2010)