Isle debate reaction
follows party lines
Lingle praises Bush as
Democrats laud Kerry
Gov. Linda Lingle, who attended yesterday's debate in Arizona, blasted John Kerry's "rhetoric," but Democrats in Hawaii countered that the Massachusetts senator's performance showed he is qualified to be the next president.
"The debate showed clearly the difference between the rhetoric of Sen. Kerry and the record of action of President Bush," said Lingle in a telephone interview after the debate.
Lingle said she thought President Bush showed his command of the issues more than he had in the first two debates.
"Kerry has no record of achievement after 20 years in the Senate. President Bush is a man of action," she said.
State Senate Democratic leader Sen. Colleen Hanabusa said Kerry appeared more presidential, which should guarantee that he will carry Hawaii in the Nov. 2 election.
"Kerry looked even better because Bush couldn't stop smirking. The contrast of them side by side was striking."
"Kerry was serious about the issues, and Bush was -- well, you couldn't figure out if he was trying to make a joke," Hanabusa added.
Hanabusa singled out the issue of abortion to illustrate the difference between the Republican president and the Democratic challenger.
Hanabusa said Bush dodged the issue of the Supreme Court and its Roe v. Wade decision giving women the right to an abortion.
"If you are opposed to Roe v. Wade, say it, don't just dodge the question and talk about not having a litmus test for court appointees. Answer the question," Hanabusa said.
"The answer to the question is a women's rights issue, and the question wasn't answered," she said.
Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Brickwood Galuteria said Kerry showed that he is well qualified and outshone Bush in the debate.
"Obviously, we can see the senator's ability to lead the nation," he said.
Lingle said she believes Kerry's plan to raise income taxes for the rich to ease the burden on the country's middle class should be of particular interest to many people in Hawaii.
"Kerry's tax increase will affect 155,000 taxpayers in Hawaii. It will tax Hawaii's small businesses," she said.
Today, Lingle is expected to join 19 other GOP governors for a campaign rally in Las Vegas with Bush.
The governors will then spread out for a two-day, countrywide barnstorming session. Lingle is expected to make stops in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Cincinnati; Pittsburgh; and New Hampshire.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.