President Donald Trump appeared enthusiastic to visit Hawaii on Friday as he embarked on a 12–day trip to Asia. But many protesters in the overwhelmingly Democratic state weren’t at all eager to see him, and they took the opportunity to remind Trump about all the times he lied about President Barack Obama’s place of birth.
“Welcome to Kenya,” protesters’ signs stated, referring to Trump’s role in promoting the “birtherism” lie that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. Trump had carried this charade forward for years, admitting only begrudgingly in the summer of 2016 that Obama was, in fact, born in the U.S.
After admitting that he had been promulgating a racist conspiracy theory, Trump tried to take credit for debunking the myth.
“I was the one who got him to produce the birth certificate, and I think I did a good job,” he told Lester Holt during a 2016 debate.
Obama actually was born in Honolulu, and he is widely admired across the state. One protester interviewed by The Washington Post brought along a cardboard cutout of the 44th president, telling the newspaper that his wife was born in the same hospital.
The protesters, who had gathered at the state capitol, also were angry about the Trump administration’s anti–immigrant policies. Hawaii is the most diverse state in the country, with a large immigrant population, the Post noted. The newspaper said hundreds had shown up to demonstrate, a much bigger number than normally participate in protests.
In addition to welcoming the president to “Kenya,” demonstrators also wished him farewell, noting that aloha also means “goodbye.”
While in Hawaii, Trump was briefed at Pacific Command and visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Before leaving for Japan on Saturday, the president visited the Trump International Hotel Waikiki to “say hello and thank you to the employees for all their hard work,” according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.