Lingle TV ad prompts candidates' first clash
In their first clash since the primary election, Republican Linda Lingle accused Democrat Mazie Hirono of contributing to Hawai'i's economic problems, while Hirono responded by saying Lingle is "always putting our people down."
Advertiser library photos
A new Linda Lingle campaign ad claims Mazie Hirono is part of Hawai'i's problem.
Hirono responded by saying Lingle is "always putting our people down."
Advertiser library photos
It calls Hawai'i's reading scores "among the worst in the nation," and says: "We rank last in job creation and first in poverty increase. ... And government has been corrupted by scandals and incompetence."
Lingle distributed information from sources including the U.S. Census Bureau that she said back up her claims.
"Over the last 10 years, 37,000 more people in this state are living in poverty," Lingle said at a press conference introducing the commercial.
Hirono "has been campaigning as an agent of change," Lingle said. "But in fact she has been a part of the government for more than 20 years and has been at the highest levels of the government for eight years."
Hirono, who has been lieutenant governor for eight years, called a news conference 90 minutes later to respond to Lingle's charges. She said the ad did not tell the whole story, and characterized it as an attack on Hawai'i residents.
"I'll tell you one thing for Linda," Hirono said. "She's very consistent. She's always negative and she's always putting our people down, and I'm not going to stand for that.
"We need a governor who believes in the people, who says we have the head and heart to make the positive changes, the real changes that's going to help our community, help our businesses, help our working families," Hirono said.
Lingle declined to characterize the TV spot as an "attack ad" and would not even repeat the phrase in response to a question yesterday.
"This is just the facts backed up by third parties who are objective," she said. "These ads are important to make sure that the public understands what the condition of our state is today and how serious it would be, how bad it would be, to have four more years of the same."
Hirono said Hawai'i's reading scores result from a large number of students for whom English is not the first language. She said she has been working on the problem by establishing the Pre-Plus program to create more preschool opportunities, as well as promoting legislation that supports teacher quality.
As for Lingle's statements about poverty, Hirono countered that data show Hawai'i's poverty rate is lower than other states, "including that of two states that are run by Republican governors, Rhode Island and New York."
Hirono said she would soon run her own ads that will offer constructive ideas for change.
"I'm going to be talking about my plan for how we're going to grow our economy," she said. "I believe in our people, and stay tuned because I'd be happy to invite you all over when we unveil our ads."
Asked whether she would run an ad targeting Lingle, Hirono responded with a small smile and said: "Stay tuned."