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Friday, July 28, 2000


Hawaii delegates:
Bush has a shot

They believe his stances
on education and the economy
will play well here

By Craig Gima


A Republican has never taken this heavily Democratic state on his first try for the presidency. But state GOP Chairwoman Linda Lingle remains optimistic about George W. Bush's chances in Hawaii.

"Molokai never elected a haole, Jewish woman either," Lingle said, referring to her upset election to the County Council in Maui when she started in politics in 1980.

Lingle and about 60 Republican state delegates, alternates and guests from Hawaii are in Philadelphia this weekend to mingle, plot strategy, party and rally behind Bush and running mate Dick Cheney when they accept the Republican nomination for president and vice president at the Republican National Convention next week.

Hawaii's 14 delegates are officially uncommitted but are expected to cast their ballots for Bush.

Bush already has the 1,034 delegates needed for the nomination, so the convention, which begins Sunday, will be a scripted showcase for the candidate and his issues. Lingle likes Bush's platform on the economy and education, which she believes will appeal to Hawaii voters.

Bush's education proposals include federal tax dollars to help parents send children to private schools, character education and tax-free savings accounts to help pay for school expenses. Education also will be the focus of Monday night's session, titled "Opportunity with a purpose: Leave no child behind."

Bush is opposed to most abortions, which could hurt him in Hawaii where a majority of voters support abortion rights.

But Lingle and other Republicans say voters here will not cast their ballots based on one issue.

"I also think he's not going to use abortion as a litmus test. He is not going to work to change the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade," said Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R, Waialae Iki), chairwoman of the Bush for President Hawaii Committee. Lingle points out that Hawaii went to Ronald Reagan when he ran for re-election in 1984 even though Reagan also opposed abortion.

The only other time Hawaii's four Electoral College votes went to a Republican was in 1972, when Richard Nixon won a second term over George McGovern.

Marumoto says a strong showing by the Republican presidential candidate may help local GOP candidates.

"The stronger Bush is, the longer his coattails," she said.

Marumoto believes there's a "synergy" with local GOP candidates helping build the Republican party and improving Bush's chance of victory.

"When they (local candidates) start campaigning and getting people to vote, they will also get them to vote on the GOP ticket for president," Marumoto said.

"If it's a runaway, it's hard to get anyone to vote," she added.

At the convention, Marumoto will be lobbying top Republican and campaign officials not to write off Hawaii and to send top names to the state.

"That's part of our battle, to make them understand that Hawaii is very receptive to voting for Bush," she said. "We think Hawaii is ripe for change. Lingle's close election is proof positive."

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