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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lingle criticizes Obama as indecisive

 •  Gloves come off in final debate

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawai'i's Republican governor addressed about 70 attendees at a GOP rally yesterday in Henderson, Nev.

DAVID ALLIO | Special to The Advertiser

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HENDERSON, Nev. — Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday portrayed U.S. Sen. Barack Obama as largely unknown and unprepared to lead the country as president in the event of an unexpected crisis.

At a rally for U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign at the Henderson Convention Center outside Las Vegas, the Republican governor said Obama has shown indecisiveness by his tendency to vote "present" while he was an Illinois state senator.

"This is a person who is not comfortable with leadership, because leadership is making tough decisions, often controversial decisions," Lingle told the rally.

Lingle is on her second Mainland campaign swing for McCain. She appeared Tuesday in Greeley, Colo., yesterday in Nevada, and is scheduled today to debate U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in Cincinnati.

Colorado, Nevada and Ohio are battleground states being targeted by McCain and Obama in the final weeks before the November vote. The local McCain and Obama campaigns are also doing voter outreach in Nevada because of the cultural and tourism connections with the Islands.

Despite Obama's popularity in Hawai'i, where he was born and graduated from Punahou School, Lingle has not been hesitant about speaking publicly about her preference for McCain.

She also introduced his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, at the nationally televised Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., last month, and was a surrogate for Palin with the national news media after the vice presidential debate in St. Louis this month.

At the rally here yesterday, Lingle re-enforced the McCain campaign's theme that the Democratic nominee — a first-term senator with no executive experience — is too inexperienced for the White House.

The most difficult challenges for presidents are often the unexpected, Lingle said, mentioning the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for President Bush, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba for President John F. Kennedy, and the use of the atomic bomb against Japan by President Harry Truman.

Lingle asked Nevada voters, in the days before the vote, to think whether they would want McCain or Obama in the White House during a crisis.

"They can talk all they want about their healthcare plans, and their economic plans, and their energy plans, their environmental plans, but it is the unexpected — when we are actually threatened as a nation —that we really come to rely on that person we put into office," she said.

Lingle also had fun with Obama's local roots.

"I'm the governor of Hawai'i, and Senator Obama likes to say he's from Hawai'i. But, the truth is, I've never met him in my life. He's never called me on the phone," Lingle said. "Ninety-five percent of the people in my state had never heard of him before he ran for president.

"I know he takes vacations in Hawai'i. Millions of people take vacations in Hawai'i," she said. "In fact, I hope he has a lot of time in the future to take a lot of vacations. And he's welcome at any time."

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai'i, responding to similar comments Lingle made in Greeley on Tuesday about Obama's local roots, said the governor was sounding "increasingly harsh and personal."

"Hawai'i shaped the life of Barack Obama and our nation will be better for it," Hirono said in a statement. "It's time for Gov. Lingle and John McCain to stop the name-calling and focus on the real issues, like fixing our economy and making America less dependent on foreign oil."

Tieri Pa'ahana Bissen, who lives in Las Vegas and is from Maui, said Lingle's appearance could be a positive among the Hawai'i transplants who live here.

"People are hungry to hear about Hawai'i issues," she said.

Bissen, who is involved with an Internet show and with fellow transplant resident John Jackson in POIPAC, a Nevada political action committee, said she believes McCain can compete here among Hawai'i transplants and Asians and Pacific islanders.

"I think it's going to be competitive here. I really do," she said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.