Monday, July 13, 1998

Campaign '98

In Their Words

Think of the politician's campaign
speech as a job resume.

To run for office you must have a ready speech,
a consistent reason for wanting the job and an
explanation of why you can do it better than
anyone else. To check out the resumes of the
major candidates for governor, the Star-Bulletin
went to a series of speeches by Ben Cayetano,
Linda Lingle and Frank Fasi.

Here's what they said about
themselves and each other.

Stories By Richard Borreca


By Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Bulletin

Ben Cayetano

He's proud to be a Democrat who rose
to success from his immigrant roots


The governor is fired up. He's been in tough political fights before, but the upcoming election is the biggest of his life.

Gov. Ben Cayetano starts his speech to more than 4,000 supporters at the Blaisdell Center filled with passion, to draw the faithful in close.

"I'm a Democrat and I'm proud of it," he says.

"Every social and political change that made life better for the people of the United States and the people of Hawaii -- from Social Security to civil rights, unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, the GI Bill of Rights, here in Hawaii, mandatory prepaid health insurance -- that was done by the party of Democrats.

"They are the party of the working people of America."

Drawing an emotional link, Cayetano puts his campaign in the context of past Democratic leaders.

"We need your support again because we continue to hold the best hope for the future of this state.

"I belong to a generation of elected officials: Jack Burns, George Ariyoshi, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman. That's the generation of elected officials I belong to," he says.

Cayetano returns to a campaign theme used successfully four years ago: his immigrant roots and values.

"You made it possible for me to be here today, a Kalihi boy, Farrington gradate, nearly dropped out of school, but the opportunities opened for me," he says, addressing the many elderly citizens in the audience.

"If there is one thing (Lt. Gov.) Mazie (Hirono) and I have in common is we are both the children of immigrants, immigrants who came to Hawaii to seek a better life, and made a better life," he says.

Turning his attention to the issues of the campaign, Cayetano sees his efforts to revitalize the economy as his biggest asset. He does not mention the ill-fated Economic Revitalization Task Force, but points to a personal income tax cut -- an idea included in the task force plan -- as one of his accomplishments.

"We have had the biggest tax cut in the history of this state. You will be realizing those reductions in your taxes come January 1st, 1999."

In other speeches, Cayetano has mentioned with some pride the contract he negotiated with the public teachers union that increased teacher salaries, while requiring seven more days of classroom instruction.

He also has explained how he helped the economy by waiving landing fees for airlines, helping to stage the Miss Universe pageant and increasing tourist industry funds.

"We understand that the working people in Hawaii, those working in the tourist industry, need jobs, and so we gave the tourist industry the biggest boost of any administration in the history of this state to make sure we continue to be competitive with the rest of the world and provide jobs.

"And we gave our people in construction, who have been hit very, very hard, we gave them hope, we gave them a billion-dollar construction program made possible by the people in the state Legislature," he said.

But, Cayetano wants the crowd at Blaisdell to do more than just believe him and vote -- he wants dedicated commitment.

"I want to tell you that we Democrats take pride in a great deal, and because we have this common bond, this common philosophy, we pull together, because we know what the other people would do.

"And you know, we can't let them take that away from us, we can't let them tear this down, we want to continue what we have been doing for the last 40 years, because we made Hawaii what it is today."

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin

Linda Lingle

She says Maui's economic stability is
not a miracle but the product of hard work,
focus and strong leadership


Bob Awana, campaign manager for Republican Linda Lingle, spreads his arms far apart.

"The mayor can speak on anything from here to here," he says. "She picks from all the subjects she cares about and knows about."

Awana, who used to accompany former Democratic Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson on the campaign trail, also marvels at how easily Lingle adjusts her speeches to groups.

Lingle is giving at least one and sometime as many as three speeches a day, and starts most with a self-deprecating joke about coming to Hawaii in 1976.

"I came to Honolulu because of the family business. My dad was already out here and my uncle owned the Cutter car dealership," she recounts.

"I went looking for a job because I didn't really want to be in the car business, my whole family is in the car business -- my dad, my sister, my cousin, my uncle.

"I wanted to do something in life that had more respect than that."

Audiences see the punch line coming.

"So I became a politician."

After spending 10 years on Molokai, six as the island's councilwoman, Lingle moved to Maui but remained on the County Council. Now she is wrapping up her second four-year term as mayor and is looking to become governor.

In her speeches, Lingle addresses the economy and what is being called the "Maui miracle."

"There's no miracle about it," she says. "It is hard; it is tough work; it is staying focused; it isn't a miracle. You focus on the essentials of your government or your business and say, 'Let's do them with excellence.' If we pull together, there is nothing we can't achieve.

"It doesn't matter what the value of the yen is on any given day. That's not the secret to what is bothering Hawaii today. We need to focus on the things we can have an impact on, like bringing accountability to government, stopping waste in government, over-regulation."

She calls increases to state taxes a 'bad idea' and instead prescribes performance-based budgeting.

"It is very important that we sit down and decide what we are going to measure -- not the government, but the community that is going to be using that government service," she says.

The question government needs to ask is: "How is your family's life going to be any better because of the money we spent in government?"

Central to Lingle's idea about the state's economy is the issue of privatization, a way of providing services that all public employee unions have fought.

"The core issue is, who is responsible for controlling government: elected officials or union officials?" she asks.

"Some government functions are not suitable for privatization, but we should have the right to explore this option as one means of improving efficiency."

Her plan for economic recovery features many of the same suggestions that have come from both Democrats and Republicans.

"I expect tourism to remain our major industry, but we are going to have to diversify," she says.

High technology, health care, television and agriculture are some of the new industries she thinks should be fostered.

Lingle speeches usually feature a section on education.

She is careful to note that she "had the opportunity to be a reading tutor for 10 years at Makawao Elementary School on Maui," and during that time learned that the majority of teachers "are dedicated to doing good."

"But, the system is so overwhelming and the paperwork is so much, they just can't get around them," she says.

"There is something else wrong with the system. I think it is the overall governance, and that is why I support very strongly decentralizing the school system, so the community would operate its own schools."

She cautions, however, that independence should be accompanied by statewide school funding, as is done now.

Somewhere in Lingle's speeches is also a reference to leadership. Seizing the public perception that her Democratic opponent is a weak leader without a vision for the state, the Maui Republican pushes her own style.

"It takes strong leadership, motivational leadership and someone who believes in the community," she says.

"I have lived my entire adult life in Hawaii, and I am committed to getting our state back on track. I know for a fact what a strong leader, supported by the community, can achieve, because I have done it," she says.

"Hawaii is worth it; it is worth voting for."

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin

Frank Fasi

He wants a chance to bring new
perspective to economic revitalization


Frank Fasi was uncharacteristically late for his speech, so when the introduction starts to run long, he impatiently cuts it short.

"You all know me," he says.

Indeed, Fasi -- who is making his fifth campaign for governor and has served more than two decades as mayor of Honolulu -- is a constant in local political life.

He's running now as a Republican, as the dreamer who hasn't had his chance to deliver.

His audience is made up of about 150 teachers who are taking a class in "networking." Fasi is to speak on his plans for economic revitalization, but the talk is about rejuvenation in general.

"I never had a chance as your governor," he points out.

"You need a change," he says.

"What is the governor and the Legislature thinking about? Mundane things," Fasi tells the teachers.

"If you want your children and grandchildren to come back or not leave, you are going to have to change your thinking.

"The golden age of civilization is right here in the Pacific. We sit right in the middle of it -- a door to the East, a door to the West.

"We ought to be dreaming dreams that we can become a power in this age of the Pacific."

Fasi ticks off a long list of proposals he wants to tackle. Many are ideas he admits derive from when he was mayor. They were proposed but never agreed to or completed.

For instance, he wants to tear down Aloha Stadium and use the valuable real estate to buy a sports complex, an idea he pushed off-and-on for more than a decade.

He calls for phasing out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The state instead should "build a 2,000-acre replacement in Leeward or Central Oahu."

He hopes "to make it the finest center of learning and research in all vital fields relating to the peaceful advancement of civilization in the coming golden age of the Pacific-Asian era."

He wants to encourage a San Diego-type zoo along with a Disney-type theme park on Oahu or a neighbor island.

To raise money for the state, Fasi says he would rely on increases to the hotel room tax.

"All you got to do is raise the room tax -- this is the way to go," he tells the audience.

Fasi calculates the room tax charges of major destination areas around the world, and says if Hawaii raised its hotel taxes, the state could pick up an extra $140 million a year.

Before anyone asks, Fasi answers the age question: He will be 78 later this month, but he challenges anyone in the room to do 100 push-ups like him.

"I can assure you of one thing -- I am not only a good person doing push-ups, but my mind is very, very sharp," he says.

"Some people talk about age and the only thing I can say is, if the Republicans can elect a United States senator who is 93 years of age to serve another six years, they better stop mentioning how old I am," he says, referring to Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

For Fasi, however, the message is one of hope for a return to politics.

"I say, I have a chance," he says. "If I can make that primary, I can win the whole thing."


Don't mind the mud

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