As President Donald J. Trump touched down for his overnight stay in Honolulu on Friday, among those gathered to greet the president were members of the Honolulu Tea Party: three of them.
At a bus stop near Pearl Harbor were Adeline Marks of Makiki, Cheryl Holliday of Maili and Marissa Kerns of Makakilo, the Honolulu Tea Party Trump 2016 “sign-waving coordinator” and organizer of the event.
About 40 people had been expected at the location, Kern said. But a last-minute plan change, designed to catch a glimpse of Trump on his way to or from the USS Arizona Memorial, likely left some Tea Party members unsure of where to meet, she said.
Still, the proud few members of the Honolulu Tea Party who braved the heat to welcome the commander-in-chief admitted they are basically a red dot in the bluest of states.
“We know we’re in hostile territory,” Holliday said at one point, as a driver on Kamehameha Highway honked and shouted a profane phrase ending in “douchebags.”
“Keep driving,” Holliday shot back at the heckler.
Despite the bravado, once the driver passed, Holliday turned, pointed to her “Make America Great Again” ball cap and said, “If you noticed, I didn’t put my hat on until I was in the safety of the group.”
A couple of hours later, more than 100 Trump opponents were gathering at the Capitol for a protest rally
Such is life for members of Hawaii’s minority political party.
With only five Republicans in the Hawaii Legislature, it seems that GOP members are an increasingly endangered species in the Aloha State. While the Tea Party represents the more conservative end of the GOP, it is known for its activism, named as it is for one of the most famous acts of civil disobedience in American history.
But, an hour after the “rally” was supposed to commence, only one more supporter had joined the group, which brought the gathering’s total to five, including Marks’ 4-year-old daughter, Addie.
Kerns reckoned some supporters might have showed up in Waikiki, where the Tea Party group originally planned to meet around noon. But at 1:30 p.m., the meeting spot near the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki across from Wailana Coffee Shop was bereft of Trump supporters.
The president did get a bigger welcome when he and first lady Melania Trump landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The friendly faces included some of those rare Republican officeholders, and some members of the military.
At her lonely outpost, Kerns said she was going to keep pushing to help the Republican Party gain ground.
“I’m not going to give up,” Kerns said. “It’s a good fight.”
Marks and Holliday agreed.
A retired U.S. Marine, Holliday said she did not agree with insulting comments Trump had made about U.S. Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
And both she and Marks said they did not approve of some of Trump’s past behavior. Holliday also acknowledged that Trump is really not the sort of political conservative that the Tea Party usually endorses. Her first choice in last year’s election, she said, was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
As the women waited and placed Trump signs along the highway, Holliday wondered where the best spot would be to see the president. Trump’s schedule was vague, likely for security reasons, and they were not sure when he was going where.
Marks decided to pray on it.
“Don’t worry, God will direct him here,” she said. “Lord, make the Secret Service tell him where we’re at.”
Alas, the Civil Beat reporter on the scene had to depart at that point for the Capitol, where a much different scene unfolded.
Trump opponents threw what amounted to a political pau hana Friday afternoon, with drums, satirical signs and a team of “radical cheer-workers” with plastic palm-frond pompoms.
More than 100 people had gathered on the Capitol’s Beretania Street plaza by the rally’s 4 p.m. start time. Some drivers heading downtown honked in support.
There was a giant inflatable rat and chicken, along with some Margaret Atwood-inspired “handmaidens.” The “cheer-workers” ran through choreographed satirical numbers.
Among those on hand was Paige Yamamoto of Kaimuki, who invoked a civil rights anthem to mock Trump’s trademark hairdo. Her slogan: “We shall overcomb.”
“I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in,” Yamamoto said, explaining why she had come down. “If you feel what the president is doing is not right, you need to come out and let him know you disagree with him.”