Obama Presidential Library Narrowed to Chicago, Honolulu

Hawaii takes the lead in duel to win the next presidential library.

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In the fight for the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum, Obama's birth city of Honolulu is nudging ahead of his adopted home of Chicago.

Officials close to the selection process say that Honolulu and the University of Hawaii have stepped up their bid for what is could be the biggest and most high-tech of all the 14 libraries in the system, should he win a second term. And even if he doesn't, it will be a huge facility because of all the major decisions and events he's faced just in his first three years. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

Honolulu already has a spot they want to plop the library and museum down on. It's the Kakaako section, on the water front near the airport, Port Panic, a popular body surfing spot, and Ala Wai Golf Course.

In May, the Honolulu City Council committee advanced a resolution urging Obama to select the city as the site for his presidential library.

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It will be up to the University of Hawaii to do most of the work and wooing, something officials say they are up to, they tell our Suzi Parker. "The University of Hawaii at Manoa is continuing to develop a proposal to house Barack Obama's presidential library and museum in Honolulu, conducting research, considering sites, and so on," said Robert Perkinson of the university's American studies department.

Their chief competition is the University of Chicago, where Obama taught. Chicago is the base of Obama's support and where he still has a house. He and his family take Christmas vacations in Hawaii.

Hawaii is on the right track, says Skip Rutherford, who helped build Bill Clinton's library and museum in Little Rock, Arkansas, and who is the dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

[See a collection of political cartoons on President Obama.]

"By this stage in the Clinton presidency, those interested in being the site of the Clinton Presidential Library had already formed local committees and were researching, planning, unofficially lobbying and waiting for a signal from the White House for the beginning of the official process," Rutherford said. "That didn't happen with President Clinton until after his second term election and likely won't happen with President Obama until after 2012."

Even former President George W. Bush waited until after his reelection to focus on picking the library, He didn't select Southern Methodist University until 2008.

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