Lingle quiet over presidential primary
The governor is saving her support for general election
Although three of the top Republican presidential hopefuls have asked for her backing, Gov. Linda Lingle says she has no plans to publicly endorse any of the candidates in the upcoming primaries.
"I've explained to each one of them," Lingle said yesterday, "that because the Republican Party is in a building stage and we're not a majority party and we don't have many members in the Legislature and we're focused on changing that, that for me to take a position for one over the other, I think, would tend to split the Republicans (in Hawaii).
"For me it would create extra division by coming out and saying I favor this one over that one. ... I think it would hurt our efforts at building a strong Republican Party here."
The campaigns for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney all sought Lingle's backing, she said.
Lingle, who as governor is the titular head of the Republican Party in Hawaii, noted that she has fairly strong ties to each.
"Mayor Giuliani has helped me a lot in my campaign, Sen. McCain helped me on the Akaka Bill at a critical time in Washington and Mitt Romney is a colleague of mine who was chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a person I respect a lot," Lingle said.
Although she has not met Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator from Tennessee who has not formally entered the race, Lingle said it would not matter if she had.
"Generally speaking, it wouldn't matter who enters the race on the Republican side -- I wouldn't be favoring one over the other," she said. "However, once a candidate is chosen, I do expect to try to help them however I can, anywhere in the country that they feel I might be able to make a contribution to their campaign."
So far this year, Romney has enjoyed the greatest financial support from Republicans in Hawaii, raising $18,210 in the islands in the first six months of 2007. McCain was next at $15,690, followed by Giuliani at $13,876.
A recent poll in Iowa showed Romney leading among GOP hopefuls with 27 percent, followed by Giuliani at 11 percent and Thompson with 7 percent.
Meanwhile, a straw poll released yesterday at the close of the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual convention in Boston showed Romney with 36 percent support, followed by Thompson with 23 percent and Giuliani with 16 percent.
Among Democrats, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton led with 31 percent, followed by John Edwards at 28 percent and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a Punahou graduate, at 20 percent.
The straw poll was taken of more than 500 respondents at the convention who were asked simply to pick a Democrat or Republican presidential candidate, the National Conference of State Legislatures said on its Web site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.