Will the scorn burning Bush singe isle GOP?
NO TWITCH in public opinion polls goes unheeded among politicians.
As President Bush's public opinion numbers continue to dive, local Republicans are starting to wonder whether this "How low can you go?" limbo of their president will affect them this fall.
Last week Bush's presidency reached a milestone as his approval rating sunk to 29 percent. That is a drop of 6 percentage points, according to the National Journal.
In comparison, Clinton's lowest rating was 37 percent and was up in the 70s during his impeachment.
In Washington the alarm bells already have sounded, but in Hawaii -- more than 5,000 miles outside the capital beltway -- what does it mean?
The popular House GOP leader Rep. Lynn Finnegan carefully parses her reflections on the president and his policies.
"There are many things that I am supportive of, but there are no two people who see eye to eye on all issues," Finnegan says.
"There are things that you have to trust the judgments that he is making along with his aides that are for the best of the state and the rest of the nation."
Instead of Bush and his troubles, Finnegan, who had no opponent in her last election, says she is thinking about Hawaii and keeping the GOP caucus focused on state issues.
"Our state officials have been elected to do a job locally," Finnegan says.
But Democratic leader Rep. Marcus Oshiro says Bush and Hawaii Republicans will be firmly lashed together during the Democrats' fall campaign.
"The governor is tied at the hip to him. I think she once called George Bush the 'greatest president ever,'" Oshiro said.
Vowing to keep Lingle and Bush hooked up, Oshiro says the national GOP policies of budget cuts to social programs for the poor, and tax cuts for the rich are felt in Hawaii.
"From the Republican president to the Republican Congress and our Republican governor, it is all weighing on our schools, our roads and our quality of life," Oshiro says.
Veteran Republican legislator and former GOP leader Rep. Barbara Marumoto, however, doubts the linkage will connect. She says Bush is just too far away to register with local voters as a part of the local GOP.
"Gov. Lingle is seen as an effective leader. When the rains came, she was right there on Kauai inspecting the damage and getting money from Washington," Marumoto said.
Recalling the days when the Democrats tried to morph an unpopular U.S. House candidate, former Rep. Gene Ward, into an even more unpopular GOP leader, Newt Gingrich, Marumoto says Lingle already has become an established commodity.
"Lingle is more than personally popular -- she is effective," says Marumoto.
This fall voters will have to sort out just how far away the state Republicans are from Washington.
writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org