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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

PRESIDENT FORD | 1913-2006
Republicans in Isles recall 'courageous' leadership

 •  Gerald Ford dies

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

A lei-bedecked Gerald Ford meets the press during a stopover in Hawai'i in 1975. At left is Gov. George Ariyoshi. At right are U.S. Sen. Hiram Fong and U.S. Rep. Spark Matsunaga.

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With Gerald Ford behind him, President Richard Nixon delivers a State of the Union message before Congress in Washington in January 1974. Ford later pardoned the disgraced Nixon.

AP file photo

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Gerald and Betty Ford play tourist at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Islandís Kohala Coast in 1974.

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The news of President Ford's death took local Republicans by surprise yesterday evening, with one prominent GOP member calling him a "courageous leader."

Former U.S. Rep. Pat Saiki, who served as a member of the state Senate while Ford was president, said she admired Ford for the work he did to bring the country together following the resignation of President Nixon.

Ford "was an honest leader. He took ... political risks in pardoning Richard Nixon. That was his contribution to history when he returned a sense of national unity and pride in our government," Saiki said.

Ford was a faithful and long-standing leader who will be missed, Gov. Linda Lingle said in a prepared statement.

"During his time in the Oval Office, President Ford helped America begin its healing from the tumultuous era of Vietnam and Watergate," Lingle said. "He also brought greater security to the world by curbing the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. That higher level of trust was perhaps most eloquently symbolized when American astronauts joined Soviet cosmonauts in a 1975 joint space mission. President Ford hailed that venture as 'blazing a new trail of international space cooperation.' "

As president, Ford stopped in Hawai'i on Dec. 7, 1975, after a diplomatic trip to Asia. At that time he was one of only six presidents to have visited the Islands. While here, Ford spoke at the East-West Center in Manoa, outlining his new U.S. "Pacific Doctrine," which recognized the right of Asian nations to guide their own policies free of outside interference. His U.S.-Asia policy called for a strong, yet flexible, U.S. military presence in the region.

Ford's remarks came on the 34th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event used as a symbol for the need for security and stability in the Pacific.

State GOP chairman Sam Aiona said he "honors and respects the service Ford gave as president."

"He was faced with a very difficult task. ... We as a country, we are very strong and we have survived through some very difficult moments, and President Ford's term was one of those moments in history," Aiona said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.