Thursday, September 2, 2004

Gov. Linda Lingle greeted Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval after introducing him yesterday to delegates at the Republican National Convention.

Lingle touts Hawaii
growth at convention

Gov. Linda Lingle, speaking before the Republican National Convention in New York, used Hawaii's growing economy as an example of the successes of both her administration and President Bush.

Lingle, in a six-minute speech at the beginning of last night's convention, told the delegates that thanks to Bush's tax cuts and her efforts in "creating a more business-friendly climate, Hawaii's economy has turned around dramatically."

Hawaii's Republican governor, who was invited to watch last night's convention proceedings from President Bush's box at Madison Square Garden, acknowledged in a conference call with Hawaii reporters after the speech that she was not one of the major speakers, but her job was to focus on the opportunities of a good economy.

"Job growth is up, the technology sector's expanding and construction and real estate are booming," Lingle told the delegates.

The race for president, rated as a toss-up by pollsters across the country, is also getting closer in Hawaii, Lingle said.

A Star-Bulletin/KITV poll taken last month showed Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John Kerry ahead of Bush by 7 percentage points in Hawaii, but Lingle said yesterday that GOP figures now show the race as much tighter.

"Their (GOP) numbers show it 2 or 3 points apart," Lingle said.

National GOP strategists consider the race for president to be competitive in Hawaii, according to Lingle. If true, that would be a dramatic turnaround from 2000 when Bush won only 37 percent of the vote.

To bolster the president's image, Lingle said she is concentrating on the impact of federal tax cuts and said that critics who said they only benefit the rich are discounting their importance to small business owners.

"These tax cuts are really benefiting Hawaii," Lingle said during the conference call.

In Hawaii, Democratic critics said that if Lingle is correct about the improving state economy, she should use already appropriated state funds to fund social service programs.

Senate President Robert Bunda (D, Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea) called on Lingle to release funds for "nonprofits that are serving our sick and mentally ill."

State money for nonprofit agencies has been restricted until the Council on Revenues meets this month to offer a new economic projection.

Lingle has said that despite the rosy outlook for the state's economy, she would not release nonessential funds because the state budget was not balanced.

National Republican Party

The Republican Party in Hawaii



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