In the rough and tumble world of political campaigns, there is perhaps no finer tradition than propping up your candidate, by cutting down the opponent.
Gov. Linda Lingle didn’t miss a chance to do just that in her final speech as governor to the state Republican Party Convention.
Speaking on behalf of Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, Lingle played up to the partisan crowd with a couple jabs at his potential opponents in the November elections.
On declared Democratic candidate Neil Abercrombie, Lingle criticized his recent calls for new programs, such as establishing a Department of Early Childhood, saying he has no plans for funding such ideas except to raise taxes.
“That’s the basis of him being able to propose new programs, because he hasn’t proposed where to cut the budget to pay for his programs,” Lingle said. “What’s the alternative? Take more money from you.
“I’ve come to call Neil Abercrombie’s version of budgeting ’shibai budgeting.’ Every time he makes a proposal I’m going to call him on it in public: ‘There he goes again, shibai budgeting. More shibai budgeting.’”
The other major Democrat potentially in the race, Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Lingle didn’t even mention by name.
“He’s not sure he’s running or not, but he does comment on state issues from time to time when it’s convenient,” she said. “When it comes to furloughs, he says, ‘If I was the governor this would never happen.’ But when he’s asked about civil unions, he says, ‘I’m not a candidate for governor yet.’ Oh, so sometimes you’re a candidate and sometimes you’re not a candidate?”
She summed it up:
“Well we’ve got one person who doesn’t understand the budget whose running against him, potentially, another person who doesn’t even know if he’s a candidate or not. I’d say Duke’s off to a real good start.”
Thanks to the miracle of social media, the comments were tweeted far and wide, and apparently made it back to the Abercrombie camp, which released this statement from campaign spokeswoman Laurie Au:
“For over a year, Neil Abercrombie has been talking with the people of Hawaii about what they want from their Governor. The message is clear. We want a change from the gridlock and politicking that is leaving people cynical and disillusioned. People are tired of hearing what can’t be done, we want to know what we can do.
“As he has demonstrated throughout his career, Neil is a leader who can work with the budget we have and make it reflect our values—one of which is to put Hawaii’s children first. No taxes should be raised unless people are confident in how existing taxes are spent. There is much to repair in order to restore this trust, and this is the underlying reason why Neil is running for Governor.”
No word from Hannemann’s camp (although Lingle never actually mentioned him by name).
Lingle also reflected on her 30 years of coming to the state party conventions, using the track and field metaphor of passing the baton and calling this year’s gathering a convention of transition.
As for what’s next for her, Lingle said she hasn’t decided yet.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but it will be something in service to the people of Hawaii and I hope to the people of America,” she said.
During a break from the convention, Lingle said she would likely decide her next career move in the first half of next year.
“I’ll just rest and enjoy Hawaii and hopefully enjoy watching a new Republican administration get started,” she said.”I’m going to take at least a couple of months and just really not do much.”