GOP kicking off national strategy session in Isles
The Republican National Committee opens its winter meeting today in Honolulu, a four-day strategy session that GOP activists from the across the country hope will position the party to make gains in the mid-term elections in November.
The gathering at the Hilton Hawaiian Village will also give Hawai'i Republicans an opportunity to make connections with party officials and network with national strategists.
The RNC and local Republicans held what was described as an Island summit yesterday to help local activists with candidate recruitment, polling, fundraising, and new media.
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who is running in the Republican primary for governor, is scheduled to speak tonight at a private evening lu'au. Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, who is running in a special election to fill out the remainder of U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's term in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District, is expected to speak at a private Washington Place reception tomorrow night.
Gov. Linda Lingle will address the meeting at a luncheon tomorrow.
"It's really a great decision to come to the president's home state, the most diverse state in America, a state that's focussed on Asia — which is our future — it's the headquarters of Pacific Command," Lingle said Monday. "It really is a perfect place to be at this time, and as we pointed out to them, our rates for hotel rooms here are less than we pay when we go to Washington, D.C."
Michael Steele, the RNC chairman, defended selecting Hawai'i as the site of the winter meeting after criticism from some Republicans that visuals of GOP activists on the beach in January would send the wrong message nationally.
The RNC has said 168 delegates are expected to attend.
"It's a chance to really kind of expose Hawai'i to the rest of America. I mean it's part of the growth and the fabric of this nation, and I think it's important for us as a party to be here," Steele told KHON on Monday.