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Aiona upbeat about GOP staying faithful to goals


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POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona is advising Republicans to tighten their game but not change policies, despite seeing the GOP suffer its biggest loss on the national level in 44 years.

In an interview in his state Capitol office yesterday after returning from a tourism promotion trip to Japan and South Korea, Aiona was positive about the GOP's future.

“;Right now they really believe it is through the governors that we can drive national policy,”; Aiona said.

He cautioned against changing the basic Republican message.

“;There is leadership on the national level saying, 'Let's change the game plan, let's redo the whole offense and defense.' I don't believe in that kind of stuff,”; Aiona said.

The 53-year-old former state judge is the only major candidate for governor who has started formally raising money for the 2010 campaign.

He said, “;2010 will be a big year for us to pick up seats and hold the seats we have.”;

After the 2008 general election, 29 states had Democratic governors and 21 had GOP governors.

Asked about the party, which on a national level saw the biggest Democratic victory since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide over Sen. Barry Goldwater, Aiona said, “;The Republican Party is not broken.”;

It was the first time since 1964 that the Democrats won more than 50 percent of the total vote. Hawaii, the birthplace of Barack Obama, had its biggest Democratic margin of victory ever, with John McCain winning just 26.4 percent of the vote.

“;It is still a good team, and it is a matter of looking to our strengths and weaknesses, tweak the weaknesses and move on,”; Aiona advised. “;Our core principles are American, as American as can be, so why should we change that?”;

Asked about the future of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential nominee, Aiona, who is also a conservative Republican, said, “;Her personality and values and principles are the same as a lot of Republicans and a lot of Americans.

“;There are a lot of positives about her,”; Aiona said, adding that he thought Palin should now concentrate on state affairs in Alaska.

In regard to Hawaii's economic problems—unemployment is expected to grow to 5.5 percent next year, and visitor arrivals are predicted to be down 10.1 percent—Aiona called the numbers “;projections.”;

“;It is just like polls—it gives you a possible road map to follow—but if I am going to put my money on that and say, 'This is what it is going to be,' then I am not a good leader,”; Aiona said.

Aiona noted that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts broke ground yesterday on an 800-unit development in West Oahu that should provide an extra 1,000 jobs.

“;This is a major boost to the psyche of Hawaii,”; Aiona said.