Draft Hawaii GOP platform criticized as issue free
By HERBERT A. SAMPLE
HONOLULU — A proposed platform for the state Republican Party was criticized Monday for avoiding positions on controversial issues, including same-sex civil unions and federal legislation to establish a governing entity for Native Hawaiians.
Eric Ryan, a member of the party's platform committee, said in a statement that the draft platform "completely sidesteps taking any public positions on any and all issues affecting the people of Hawaii."
But Erin Kealoha, spokeswoman for the state party, fired back at Ryan.
"It is very disappointing that individuals have decided to undermine the hard work of our platform committee and make their efforts public in an effort to disrupt, discourage and discredit" its work, she said in a statement.
The panel approved the document Saturday and it is to be considered at the state GOP convention on May 15.
The one-page proposed platform centers on five principals, pegged to the acronym "LLIFE" — liberty, limited government, individual responsibility, fiscal accountability and equality of opportunity.
According to a copy provided by Ryan, each principal includes two or more brief explanatory sentences. But no specific issues, such as abortion, gay rights, health care reform or the Native Hawaiian legislation, are mentioned.
"These values clearly define what it is to be a Hawaii Republican and what differentiates us from Hawaii Democrats," said Kealoha.
Still, the document contrasts with the current state GOP platform, which was adopted in 2008. At 16 pages, it contains 10 broad categories — including education, health care, the economy and Native Hawaiians — and accompanying declarations of policy.
But the current platform also does not mention abortion or gay rights, and some Republican activists interpreted one provision as supporting the Native Hawaiian measure.
Ryan, who along with a sizable number of Republican activists oppose the bill, last month lauded the platform committee for removing the Native Hawaiian language.
But on Monday, he assailed the draft platform for taking no position on any specific issue. One other state GOP committee member agreed.
"They're trying to leave it up to the individual candidate to come up with their own platform," said Marian Grey, a state GOP central committee member from Hawaii Kai. "I don't really understand the motivation about making it so vague. I really don't. And there probably will be a lot of fireworks over this at the convention."
Ryan also contended that Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor later this year, supports the proposed platform. But Travis Taylor, an Aiona spokesman, said Aiona had no role in the document's drafting.