Lingle would turn down
potential Cabinet post
The governor has had a key role in Bush's
re-election effort here
Gov. Linda Lingle says she would not accept a national post if a re-elected President Bush offers it, because she wants to serve the state and run for re-election in 2006.
"I'd be flattered of course, and that kind of recognition for our state is important, but I am committed to our state," Lingle said.
As chairwoman for the Bush campaign in Hawaii, Lingle has played a key role in his effort to take heavily Democratic Hawaii's four electoral votes in a close national race. There has been speculation Bush might offer her a Cabinet post or other national position if he is re-elected.
At a Thursday news conference announcing a campaign visit tomorrow by Vice President Dick Cheney to Hawaii, Lingle was asked whether she would accept a national post.
"No, I wouldn't," she said.
Elected in 2002 as the state's first GOP governor in four decades, Lingle said she expects to run for re-election in two years with Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.
"People honored us by giving us this opportunity, and we're going to fulfill it," she said. "We have a lot of important issues that we're involved with," she said, including continuing to turn around the economy, increasing public safety and reforming education.
"It's going to take longer than this short time, and the term goes very quickly," Lingle said.
The governor said she would tell Bush that she is committed to the people of Hawaii. "I would just tell him my life is here and my passion is here in Hawaii," she said.
"Whatever I do at a national or international level is to try to bring attention and respect for the people of Hawaii because this is the most unique place, I think, anywhere in the world," she added.
Economic focus on Asia and the possibility of terrorist strikes in the Asia-Pacific region add to Hawaii's importance, Lingle said.
She said having a personal relationship with Bush "is a real nice thing for me personally, but more so it's important for the state that I'm able to bring issues forward and have good access in Washington."
Otherwise, she said, Hawaii might be forgotten.
"Because we have such a small population, it's easy to overlook us, but not anymore," she said.
Lingle indicated that she relished the attention Hawaii is getting.
"Fortunately for us," she said, "it's coming down to where Hawaii will play a critical role in this election."