Preliminary discussions on the location of the Barack Obama Presidential Library are underway and Chicago and Hawaii are both staking their claim, reports The Hill.
With the approval of Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), University of Hawaii professor Robert Perkinson is coordinating a statewide campaign with a budget granted by the university. According to the report, Abercrombie has talked with President Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng and to Obama’s childhood friend Bobby Titcomb about his plans.
The AP also said the state’s development authority has set aside several pieces of land as potential library sites, with an emphasis on picturesque Hawaiian views. Obama’s adulthood hometown of Chicago, where he began his political career, is widely seen as the frontrunner to house the library.
Hawaii, specifically the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu (the place of President Obama’s birth) is largely seen as the underdog since Obama rose to prominence in the Windy City and still has professional and personal ties.
Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now Chicago’s mayor. First Lady Michelle Obama, who is a Chicago native, is connected to the University of Chicago through her former chief of staff, Susan Sher, who is currently the Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Public Affairs at the university’s Medical Center and also Senior Adviser to the president of the university. Sher is reportedly pushing behind the scenes for the library to be located at there, which seems like an obvious choice as Obama taught law there for 12 years and was offered a full-time, tenure-track position several times between 1992-2004.
Obama senior adviser David Axelrod recently established a political institute.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) understands that Chicago will probably get the library, but is hopeful that President Obama will choose to base a post-presidential think tank or philanthropic efforts in Hawaii.
“We really don’t see it as an either-or proposition,” said Sen. Schatz, who has assisted the effort for years as a former lieutenant governor and state lawmaker. “We see no reason that the president has to be forced to choose between his two hometowns.”
The Presidential Library process will formally get underway early in 2014, when a nonprofit foundation will be set up and a group formed to raise seed money and evaluate potential site, reports the Associated Press.