Neil Abercrombie

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Neil Abercrombie

Neil Abercrombie is featured in a

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]


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]

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.[25] The entire letter together with a complete list of signatories can be read by clicking here.


The following have worked as staff members for Neil Abercrombie:[26]

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. John Dingell's House website: Letter to Hillary Clinton, Dec. 22, 2009
  26. Legistorm: Neil Abercrombie (accessed on Aug. 24, 2010)