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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, October 27, 2002

Reaction offered as debate in gubernatorial campaign

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

The good news is that the candidates for governor and their respective political parties are working hard to get their messages out.

The hard part is trying to keep all those messages straight, particularly when you're not sure you ever heard the initial statement that the "response" statement is responding to.

For example, last Tuesday, a spate of hastily arranged afternoon press conferences included these items listed on the Associated Press:

Noon: Former NFL star Leo Goeas responds to "false accusations" by Democrats. Hawai'i Republican Party headquarters.

1 p.m.: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mazie Hirono responds to a Republican statement. Hirono campaign headquarters.

2:30 p.m.: Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle announces new endorsement. Lingle campaign headquarters.

The "Dueling Banjos" continued on through the week. On Thursday, it was:

1 p.m.: State House Republicans hold a news conference to discuss "favoritism in state awarded contracts." Capitol rotunda.

2 p.m.: Republican candidates hold a rally to "challenge Democrats to repudiate lies contained in recent mailings sent by the Democratic Party." Hawaii Democratic Party headquarters.

2:15 p.m.: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mazie Hirono and her running mate, Matt Matsunaga, hold a news conference on "racial smears in the gubernatorial campaign." Hirono campaign headquarters.

And on Friday, the tennis match went like this:

10 a.m.: Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle's campaign holds a news conference to discuss Lingle's Maui record. Lingle campaign headquarters.

1 p.m.: House Republicans hold a news conference to discuss "taxes raised $1.2 billion during Cayetano/Hirono administration." Capitol rotunda.

It's reminiscent of that classic skit from Hawai'i comedy legends Booga Booga, where fans of opposing high school football teams are yelling at each other across the field, and what starts out as good-natured competition disintegrates into name-calling:



"You ugly!"


"You ugly!"


"You ugly!"

"One more time?"

"You ug-a-ly!"


"Ug-a-ly! You ugly!"

The more the "offending" statement is repeated, even in rebuttal, the greater the chances are that it will grow in strength and credibility.

Hawai'i's cry for "change" is really a cry for action. Right now the only action politicians and political parties really can take is to talk. Unfortunately, much of the talk isn't about action, but reaction.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.