WAIMEA — Scott Presler wants to help turn the blue state of Hawaii “red like hot lava.”
The energetic conservative activist was on the Big Island this week, speaking first in Hilo on Thursday, and then in Waimea and Kailua-Kona on Saturday. His hope while visiting Hawaii is to encourage his fellow President Donald Trump supporters to get involved in their community and help others register to vote for the 2020 election.
“My goal is to bring out the energy in people, because it’s clearly here. Hawaii is a Democratic state, and it’s voted Democratic for so long, that I think people feel disenfranchised and disillusioned,” Presler said. “The whole reason and purpose for my being here is to show people that there is hope and there is opportunity and to teach them the simple things that the average Joe like me can do to get out the vote.”
In the 2018 general election, 51.5 percent of the 115,406 registered voters voted on the Big Island.
To cheers and applause, Presler, who’s been featured on Fox News, told the attendees of his speech at Mana Christian Ohana in Waimea how he was inspired to pursue a career in politics. Events such as former President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 and the Gays For Trump movement on social media after the June 12, 2016, mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, all inspired him to spread the conservative message “with love.”
Presler said in the past six months, he has visited and spoken to local Republican organizations in 14 states and 45 cities.
“The best part of being American is showing our love through action, not words,” Presler said. “I want people to use their hands, not their mouth.”
Presler has gained national attention in the past year due to his organization of a neighborhood cleanup in Baltimore, Maryland. More than 100 volunteers helped Presler clean up 29 tons of trash on the Baltimore streets. Presler also organized a cleanup in Los Angeles, clearing 50 tons of trash from the city.
“Go do community acts,” Presler said. “I’m the guy that cleaned up Baltimore, so why don’t we organize and see if we can get people here to go to Honolulu and try to help out with the homeless crisis and try to clean up trash.”
Presler, who spoke for an hour, at one point addressed West Hawaii Today, the only media at the event. Media has been a consistent target for Trump, who coined the term “Fake News” and called it the enemy of the people.
“But we are not going to boo her, we’re going to clap,” he said. “Let’s clap for the media. Because we are loving.”
Presler’s message is one that Big Island Republicans’ Jeffrey Coakley hopes will encourage his fellow Republicans on the island to no longer keep quiet.
“What we want to do is energize people to where we are going to stand up and be vocal and be out there where people can see us, and not walk around and whisper, ‘I’m a Republican,’” Coakley said. “We want to stand up and be proud.”
Coakley said Big Island Republican events usually see a turnout of 20-25 people, but Saturday’s event in Waimea saw about double that.
The audience members expressed their dissatisfaction with some of the Democratic politicians currently in office, and their hopes of reelecting Trump in 2020.
“We want to hear what he has to say,” attendee Faye Yates said on why he attended the event. “For me, I’m just tired of the same old, same old. I’m tired of them spending so much time talking about (Trump) rather than getting on with business. People put them in the office to work for us, but they seem to be working for their own interest. They’re more focused on getting him out rather than doing their job.”
The high-energy rally by Presler resonated with the proud Republican supporters.
“I thought it was incredible, especially the energy. Everything he said, I agreed with,” Don Keith said. “Everyone seems to be quiet these days. They don’t want to be as outspoken as he is, because they’re afraid of speaking their mind or their own opinions.”