Lingle voices support for
Bush and five-point policy
for sovereignty in Iraq

Gov. Linda Lingle repeated her strong support yesterday for President Bush and the nation's involvement in Iraq.

"President Bush was clear in the steps he's going to take as it relates to turning over sovereignty," said Lingle, a fellow Republican. "He made it clear that if they don't want us to stay, we won't stay there."

State of Hawaii Lingle, who returned over the weekend from a six-day state visit to Israel, reacted to Bush's speech yesterday explaining U.S. plans to turn over political control of Iraq.

The president tempered expectations, Lingle said.

"My own visit to Iraq (in February) made it clear to me that this is not going to be easy or simple. My impression is that it will be a long process," said Lingle.

Criticism of Bush's decision to go to war without United Nations backing and to keep Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the job despite reports of abuses to Iraqi prisoners have not caused Lingle to weaken in her support for Bush.

She told reporters yesterday that Bush made the right choice to go to war without broad international support, because the decision was essential to fight terrorism.

"If we are not going to fight terrorism there, we are going to fight it here at home. Someone put it well when they said, 'We would rather play this as an away game, rather than a home game,'" Lingle said.

Although Democrats nationally have called for Rumsfeld to resign, Lingle strongly defended him, saying, "You don't change the secretary of defense in the middle of a war."

"He has done an excellent job and the president has confidence in him," Lingle said.

Asked about her trip to Israel, Lingle praised it a "beacon of democracy" in the Middle East, adding that the country "is very optimistic about its future."

"President Bush has taken a strong stand in support of Israel and I think it is a correct position. We should always support democracies," Lingle said.

Lingle said she was struck by the fact that Arab women participate in Israel's government.

"Israel is the only country in the Middle East where an Arab can be elected to anything, let alone an Arab woman," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Gov. Linda Lingle's news conference:

President Bush's speech:


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