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Friday, November 3, 2000

Flag Button art

Gore, Bush
in final push

Polls please some in isles,
baffle others

Bullet General Election Guide
Bullet State Office of Elections

By Richard Borreca

As Texas Gov. George W. Bush maintains a small but constant lead over Vice President Al Gore, local Republicans are hoping that somehow the last-minute GOP momentum will move across the Pacific to Hawaii.

"I don't believe we are down by as much as has been reported in the polls," says Rep. Barbara Marumoto, national Bush coordinator for Hawaii.

But she acknowledges that right now it doesn't appear that Bush is likely to win in Hawaii.

At the same time, Democratic leader Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono is mystified about why the presidential race is so close.

"It just makes me wonder. We have the strongest economy. People say they are voting for someone who is likable -- what about competence?" she asked.

Meanwhile, consumer activist Ralph Nader, who some say will be the spoiler in the race, is enjoying a small but dedicated following in Hawaii.

"The whole point of the Nader campaign is to create a third party that is significant," said Ira Rother, Hawaii co-chair of the Nader campaign.

All three agreed that the closeness of the race may make the contest more interesting and draw people to the polls.

Rother, for instance, cited reports that Nader's candidacy is likely to draw voters who will then vote Democratic in other races.

Marumoto is hoping that if local Republicans turn out to help Bush, the increased attention will turn into more votes for the GOP in Hawaii races.

"There should be some Bush coattails," she said.

Hawaii is calculated as a safe win for Gore, and Hirono is hoping that if he wins, the loyalty of island Democrats will help the state.

"There is a lot we can do with a friendly administration," Hirono said.

In these final days, with most of the national political money being spent in close races on the mainland, the three local campaigns are left to rely on rallies and grass-roots campaigns to mobilize voters.

Democrats are sponsoring several rallies Sunday, with a major one on Oahu from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kakaako Waterfront Park. They will also have one on Maui from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Kauai at 5:30 p.m. A final rally, at Hilo, will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Marumoto said the Bush campaign is phoning friends, working to increase election day turnout and last-minute sign-waving.

The Green Party, with little local money to spend, is relying on email campaigns to tell local voters about mainland rallies and Nader campaign issues.

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