Lingle ready to back McCain
Gov. Linda Lingle says she understands the excitement generated locally by Hawaii-born presidential candidate Barack Obama, but she thinks Republican John McCain is a better choice to lead the country.
"I think the excitement about Senator Obama in Hawaii is very understandable," Lingle said yesterday. "Everyone likes someone who's been to school in this state or who was born in this state to do well, and I certainly wish him all the best.
"However, I think between now and the general election, when people start to understand the policies of the two candidates, I'm very confident that Senator McCain has a good chance to win the election. It's about what you would do as president and how you would react -- how you would lead as opposed to where you were born or where you went to school."
One of the key differences that already has surfaced is their policy on America's security and the war in Iraq, Lingle said.
"He (McCain) understands what needs to be accomplished in order to protect our way of life in America," Lingle said. "I think Senator Obama really hasn't thought very deeply about this issue.
"He talks about pulling troops out in a very precipitous way: 'As soon as I get in, they're all coming out.' We know that's not really going to happen, but it plays well on the campaign trail."
Earlier this week, in a speech to a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting, Obama said McCain "offers a false choice: Stay the course in Iraq or cede the region to Iran. ... It is a policy for staying, not a policy for victory," adding that he favors a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
Lingle said she already has had preliminary discussions with McCain campaign officials and stands ready to campaign on his behalf wherever they feel she is needed.
"I think there are certain key states and certain constituencies where they probably feel I can help," Lingle said. "Some of the larger states, especially with large Jewish populations, are places they think I can be effective. I guess with any sort of women's groups would be another place."
Delivering the islands for McCain would be a sizable task for Lingle in a Democratic stronghold such as Hawaii.
The candidacy of Obama, a 1979 Punahou graduate, has fueled record turnout in caucuses and primaries throughout the country, and Hawaii was no different, as a record 37,000 people turned out for the state's Democratic caucus in February. Obama won the caucus with 76 percent of the vote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.