Lingle to meet Obama in capital


POSTED: Saturday, January 03, 2009

Despite both sides expressing a willingness to meet and discuss pertinent state issues, President-elect Barack Obama and members of his transition team were unable to meet with Gov. Linda Lingle during their recent vacation in Hawaii.

Lingle, after facing criticism from local Democrats for not making more of an effort to attend a meeting of the nation's governors with Obama early last month, had said she hoped to meet with Obama or Valerie Jarrett, one of his top aides, during their vacation.

Obama arrived in Hawaii on Dec. 20 and left Thursday. Jarrett, along with some of Obama's close friends from Chicago, arrived later.

“;While the president-elect continued to be briefed on global events and kept up to date on transition work, this was his last opportunity before taking office to spend an extended period of time with family and friends,”; Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Obama's transition team, said in an e-mail.

Lingle said Jarrett called her office before she arrived in Hawaii, “;saying that she had just a few days and she preferred to just have private time.”;

“;We certainly understood and respected that, so we're going to be meeting with her when I'm in Washington in February,”; Lingle added.

The February trip will be for a meeting of the National Governors Association, Lingle said.

She said the February meeting is expected to be more substantive than the December governors meeting, noting that next month's event includes dinner and a scheduled three-hour meeting.

“;This is a formal dinner that President Bush always had and that President-elect Obama will have,”; Lingle said. “;The next morning ... we have a governors-only meeting with the president.

“;That's sort of the same pattern that President Bush operated under,”; Lingle said.

The governor said she also plans to take that time to meet with Jarrett as well as some of the new members of Obama's Cabinet, particularly in the Energy, Commerce and Homeland Security departments.