GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM|
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush looked on Thursday night as Gov. Linda Lingle addressed supporters during a fund-raiser at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Gov says Hawaii
was ‘at its best’
Lingle was struck by protesters’
decorum during Thursday's visit
Hawaii citizens, whether President Bush supporters or opponents, get an "A-plus" from Gov. Linda Lingle for their conduct during Thursday's 12-hour presidential visit.
In a meeting with reporters yesterday, Lingle said Bush was aware of the scattered protests but relieved to see welcome signs and demonstrations of support.
Lingle, who rode in the presidential motorcade with Bush, said she pointed to the hand-painted signs of support and the children along school fences waving and cheering as the president zoomed past.
"He commented all during the day about there not being protesters, and he was touched by it. ... I think he felt good about Hawaii," Lingle said.
She said Bush asked the Secret Service how many protesters were expected along the route to his fund-raiser at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
When agents told him 500, Bush looked out and saw part of the crowd gathered at the front of the hotel. "He said, 'I don't think there are more than 250,'" Lingle said.
The motorcade, however, went into the Waikiki hotel through a service entrance and not the front gate where most of the protesters had gathered.
The demonstrators at the hotel seemed orderly, Lingle said.
"Hawaii people do it in a nice and polite way, even if they strongly disagree. I think it was Hawaii at its best," Lingle said.
The Republican governor also said she was encouraged by Bush's interest in the issues of native Hawaiian sovereignty and her lobbying for the Akaka bill, legislation before Congress that would grant federal recognition to native Hawaiians.
Lingle said she plans to follow up on discussions she had with Bush about the bill when she heads to Capitol Hill in early December.
The governor said she took every opportunity she could to mention the issue during her time with the president.
Although her trip to Washington in December is to attend a conference on long-term care, Lingle said that would not stop her from pursuing the issue of federal recognition.
"I'll follow up with the Department of Interior, with Justice again and with (Bush adviser) Karl Rove and the staff of the White House and just continue to talk with them and see if they can help us get this scheduled for a vote in the Senate," she said. "The next step right now is getting it scheduled."
The Akaka bill would establish an office in the Department of the Interior to address native Hawaiian issues and create an interagency group composed of representatives of federal agencies that currently administer programs and policies affecting native Hawaiians. In effect, the federal government would recognize Hawaiians as a native population, as they already do American Indians and native Alaskans.
Lingle said she had mentioned Washington Place and the history of Hawaii's last queen, Liliuokalani, when first lady Laura Bush mentioned that she had bought a biography of the queen.
"Mrs. Bush said it was a sad story," said Lingle. The governor said she told the Bushes that the queen's overthrow formed the basis for the whole federal recognition effort "because the country was taken away."
Although Lingle said Bush did not make any promises, she said the native Hawaii issue was "now on his radar screen."
"I feel better about it, substantially better than the day before he came. He recognizes it as an important issue to the state and the people of Hawaii," Lingle said.
Ron Mun, deputy administrator of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said the reaction was encouraging.
"Any time you can put something like this on a national level, it is encouraging," Mun said.
Although it is not likely to come up for a vote in Congress now, Mun speculated that the Akaka bill could see action when Congress reconvenes in the 2004 election year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
BACK TO TOP
Plane at Hilo likely Bush’s
Air Force One backup
HILO >> A plane similar to Air Force One sat for several hours at the Hilo Airport Thursday, causing a minor stir on the Big Island.
Authorities would not comment on the plane, but Honolulu security consultant Keith Kaneshiro said it was likely a backup for President Bush's plane.
The plane was clearly visible at Hilo airport, prompting some people to take photos of it and wonder what it was doing on the Big Island. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald published a front-page photo with a story about the plane.
Whenever there is security for a high-ranking person, there are multiple backups, said Kaneshiro, who is a former state director of public safety and a former Honolulu prosecutor. Besides his security consultancy, Kaneshiro continues to practice law and also works as a private investigator.
Kaneshiro received training from the Secret Service during his former jobs but said his comments apply to general security procedures.
"You're always supposed to have a backup," he said.
If air transportation is used, there should be a backup. The same is true for ground transportation.
A command post is generally established. A backup command post is also designated, he said. A hospital is selected in case the need arises, and a backup hospital is also picked.
Why was the plane sent to Hilo?
In case of an incident, security personnel do not want to have to protect two targets in the same location, he said.
Hawaii County Managing Director Dixie Kaetsu said the mayor's office was not informed of the Air Force plane coming to Hilo, but she also assumed the purpose was backup.
"You don't want to park the plane in the same place as the real Air Force One in case of any problems, I would assume," she said.
Police Capt. Henry Tavares said county police were notified the plane was coming, but he could not comment further.
Gov. Linda Lingle's spokesman Russell Pang said, "We're not commenting on White House security."