Sunday, September 8, 2002

Election 2002


Candidates face off
over war on terror

Opponents of Abercrombie
and Mink focus on their stand
on terrorism-related issues

Candidates for U.S. Congress

By Crystal Kua

The war on terrorism after last year's Sept. 11 attacks is becoming a key criterion for judging the performance of Congress -- especially in an election year.

So as Democratic U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Patsy Mink seek re-election, their political opponents ask the voters to look at the stands the incumbents took on issues related to terrorism.

Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott (R, Aliamanu-Aiea), who takes great pride in his service as a Gulf War veteran, is running for Mink's 2nd Congressional District seat, which covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

McDermott, who will face James Donovan in the Republican primary election, has already gone on the offensive by attacking Mink's voting record on anti-terrorism bills, calling her "soft on terrorism."

Mink, who faces Steve Tataii in the Democratic primary, has defended her voting record on those bills, saying she needs to look at the impact of the entire legislation and not just the "nice-sounding title" that McDermott would vote for.

At a congressional candidates forum sponsored last month by the United Nations Association's Hawaii division, McDermott continued his assault on Mink by pointing out that the U.S. House voted in favor of a resolution condemning the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian bombers in December, and only 11 -- including Mink and Abercrombie -- voted no.

"Eleven members of that House of Representatives had the opportunity to condemn terrorism, had the opportunity to say we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel," he said. "They refused to condemn terrorism, and I'm sad to say that two of them are from Hawaii."

Mink and Abercrombie did stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Republican President Bush on that vote, said Mink's husband, John, who stood in for the congresswoman at the forum after she was stranded on Maui.

John Mink said the Bush administration was engaged in sensitive negotiations over the Middle East conflict and didn't want such a resolution passed.

"That's why that vote went that way at that time," he said.

"Fighting terrorism from war rooms and security councils is like going after a virus with a chainsaw," said Libertarian Lawrence Duquesne, who is up against fellow Libertarian Jeff Mallan in the 2nd Congressional District primary.

Duquesne said the Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact because terrorists aren't using our freedoms against us.

"They'd win this war for as long as our own government infringes on our civil rights to keep and bear arms," he said. "The citizen militia must be remobilized, the people must be rearmed. If terrorism is a virus in our society, we are the antibodies.

"Could you imagine sending a hijacker in a jet with knives knowing that the passengers were carrying guns?"

Those trying to unseat Abercrombie in the 1st Congressional District include Libertarian James Bracken and Republicans Stephen Bischoff, Harry Friel, Mark Terry and Opassi White.

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