Round three

July 8th, 2014
By

*Note: The third debate in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate between U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa ended too late on Monday night to appear in Tuesday's newspaper. A version of the story below should appear in Wednesday's paper.

***

In a taut and punchy performance, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa on Monday night sought to depict U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz as unprepared for the legislative rigor of the Senate.

Hanabusa, who has argued that she is the more experienced legislator, used a Democratic primary debate to suggest Schatz does not fully comprehend the policy differences he has cited as contrasts between them during the campaign.

While Schatz held his ground on the substance of the issues and did not get drawn in to a fight, Hanabusa took every opportunity to poke at the senator.

Schatz asked Hanabusa whether she regretted her vote last year for an unsuccessful amendment that would have directed President Barack Obama to use the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan as a model. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare had urged lawmakers to reject the amendment, contending that Simpson-Bowles was too weighted toward entitlement reform.

Rather than defend her vote, Hanabusa went after Schatz.

“At least, Brian, understand what the bills are and look at them carefully before you make these kinds of accusations,” the congresswoman said. “That is not what that vote was about.”

Schatz said he “can’t wait for the fact-checkers to get after this one,” citing the opposition to the amendment from advocates for seniors. “Colleen, you didn’t answer the question because you took a bad vote,” he said.

Hanabusa also claimed Schatz did not understand the ramifications of his 2012 vote against a five-year extension of the federal government's expanded power to conduct electronic surveillance against terrorist targets outside the United States. While Schatz was concerned about the privacy of Americans caught up in the surveillance, Hanabusa voted for the extension, arguing that without the law, there would potentially be no restrictions on surveillance.

“Brian, you have to start to read the bills to really understand what you’re talking about,” Hanabusa said. “You didn’t vote to end FISA, what you voted for was to give the president unbridled authority just like (former President) George Bush and (former Vice President Dick) Cheney.”

Hanabusa also aggressively challenged Schatz about the role Andy Winer, his chief of staff, played as a consultant to the Pacific Resource Partnership during the group’s negative attacks on former Gov. Ben Cayetano in the mayor’s race in 2012.

“So, Brian, what did you know of Andy’s involvement in the deplorable smear, as you call it, and when did you know it?,” she prodded.

Schatz said he hired Winer because he is a capable chief of staff who has worked for many Hawaii Democrats. But, referring to PRP, the senator said he “will not allow those kinds of tactics to occur under my watch. I am a happy warrior. I’m running a positive campaign. And you know it.”

Unsatisfied, Hanabusa said Schatz did not answer the question about what he knew of Winer’s involvement with PRP.

The one hour debate, moderated by KITV’s Paula Akana and sponsored by KITV and Civil Beat, the online news site, was the third of five debates between the candidates before the August primary, but the first to air on statewide television.

The forum produced a few new policy wrinkles.

Hanabusa said she does not believe genetically modified foods are unhealthy and said she stands with farmers and scientists on the issue. In a widening policy split, she said Schatz’s support for state and county home rule on GMO regulation would not work.

“You cannot have potentially four different sets of legislation or statutes to govern what can be grown by our farmers,” she said. “That would, in and of itself, I believe, kill agriculture, because how can they survive if they have one set of rules in one area, and another ...

“And as someone who wants to be the United States senator, or is the United States senator, look at it in terms of the United States Constitution -- supremacy clause and commerce clause.”

Hanabusa, however, said the states, and not the federal government, should determine whether marijuana should be legalized.

Schatz said he does not think Hawaii is ready to legalize marijuana, but does believe there needs to be a national conversation on drug laws that are “incarcerating young men and women and ruining their lives.”

Hanabusa said Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor in Hawaii who publicly released documents on government surveillance, should return to the United States and stand trial. “Yes, we learned a lot through what he did,” she said. “But was he truly a whistleblower? Those are decisions that the court system has to determine.”

Schatz said “I don’t think he’s a hero. But I think the main issue here is not so much what we think of Edward Snowden, but how we need to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to protect our Fourth Amendment rights under the Constitution.”

Asked to define Obama’s presidency, given a recent poll that rated Obama as the worst president since World War II, Schatz said Obama has been a strong president who has unfortunately faced “unprecedented obstruction” from Tea Party Republicans.

“I think it’s really important to understand how dedicated they have been to undermining every bit of his legislative legacy, and still he has been able to keep many of his promises,” said Schatz, who helped lead Obama’s campaign in Hawaii in 2008 and who has been endorsed by the president. “He’s been able to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was able to pass the Affordable Care Act. He’s taking action on climate. He’s been a leader in civil rights, in gay rights, in women’s rights. He’s pushing for immigration reform.

“And so, I think, facing unprecedented obstruction, President Obama has been an effective president.”

Hanabusa described Obama as “one of us,” who has the warmth and affection of the people of Hawaii. But she said she has disagreed with the president on military policy in Iraq and Syria.

Asked about former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s potential presidential campaign in 2016, Hanabusa, who endorsed Clinton over Obama in 2008, said Clinton “has paid her dues, like no one else.

“And, as a woman, I have to tell you, I look upon Hillary Clinton as probably our best chance -- as a woman -- to have a president of the United States.”
Schatz said he admires Clinton and hopes she runs, mentioning his son’s comment that he thought it was time the nation had a woman president, but the senator would not commit to endorsing her campaign.

Even when the two Democrats were invited to say something positive about each other, Hanabusa found a way to dig at Schatz.

Schatz praised Hanabusa for not taking the primary personally and for her work in the state Senate on oversight of public school compliance with special education standards.

Hanabusa described Schatz as a political survivor. She said Schatz “convinced Neil Abercrombie that he should be appointed to the United States Senate. That’s an amazing feat: one vote created somebody as the United States senator for the state of Hawaii. That’s something you got to admire.”

The congresswoman celebrated her reputation as a policy wonk. “I love being a legislator,” she said. “And that is why I have the reputation of reading bills and drilling down in details. And that is why some call me wonky.”

28 Responses to “Round three”

  1. OldPro:

    Asked to say something nice about her opponent, Colleen comes out with a snarky mean-spirited jab. How disappointing!


  2. Kolea:

    I was only able to watch part of the debate, but did see most of the exchanges referenced here. I also watched the online video of the recent Big Island debate, which was posted by Big Island Video News and can be found through Google.

    In both cases, I was surprised at how vague and dodgy Congresswoman Hanabusa's responses were. The word "mealy-mouth" comes to mind. Hanabusa tries to present herself as a "policy wonk," as she did last night. But on so many issues, her responses did not demonstrate a good grasp of either the technical dimensions of the policies being discussed nor the philosophical, ethical dimensions. She appeared to be trying to satisfy everybody and offending nobody and came across as two-faced.

    As DePledge notes above, her aim was to try to establish the perception that she, as "an experienced legislator," had a good grasp of the legislation, even to the point of being "wonky." And that Brian, who might APPEAR to have voted better on certain issues, like Social Security and government surveillance, was too inexperienced to understand the REAL meaning of the bills, like she had.

    If we drill down into any specific bill where they disagreed, in most cases, it appears Hanabusa was sacrificing traditional Democratic values of compassion for the elderly, the poor and middle class, in order to build up an image as being "bi-partisan." Her support for the Simpson-Bowles proposals to cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age, etc., are a particularly strong example. I hope whatever "fact-finders" Schatz was appealing to will look closely into her votes on cutting Social Security and for blocking access to lower cost drugs.

    If anything, Schatz appeared more confident, less frazzled in his answers, than Hanabusa. (Not sure about his haircut, tie and choice of jacket, however.)


  3. Especially Incognito:

    Schatz is just a better speaker.
    Japanese are not known for their speaking skills.
    Rarity is Patsy Mink and Senator Inouye.

    Rope a dope.

    Scandal. Candidate accepting donations
    to pay off student loans.


  4. Chicken Grease:

    Ridiculous this Hanabusa. Her very "if you read the bill, Brian"-class assertions confers she unable to team play (I mean, she is still a representative up in there, up in there, no? Shouldn't she, Tulsi, Mazie, AND Brian be holding regular meetings to discuss such bills and, ergo, at least understand such things as one (Borg-like as needed)? Brian Schatz confers a philosophy of teamwork. Hanabusa, last night, showed that she doesn't.

    She complains about how Schatz was chosen with "one vote" by the governor. Hmmmmm, wasn't this "one vote" philosophy the exact same directive furnished to try to put her in Hawaii's other senate seat (i.e., request by Inouye, R.I.P.)?

    She is a lame debator. Childish at some points.

    Hope Brian has the wherewithal to say, "look. We don't need ANOTHER LAWYER in Washington."

    And, oh? Schatz is a survivor? Well, he's in good company! HIT IT, DESTINY'S CHILD:

    Now that you're out of my life
    I'm so much better
    You thought that I'd be weak without you
    But now I'm stronger
    You thought that I'd be broke without you
    But I'm richer
    [Senate pay, word!]
    You thought that I'd be sad without you
    Now I laugh harder
    You thought I wouldn't grow without you
    Now I'm wiser
    Though that I'd be helpless without you
    But I'm smarter
    You thought that I'd be stressed without you
    But I'm chillin'
    You thought I wouldn't sell without you
    I sold nine million

    I'm a SURVIVOR
    I'm not gonna give up
    I'm not gonnna stop
    I'm gonna work harder
    I'm a survivor
    I'm gonna make it
    I'lll survive
    Keep on surviving

    Word. The heck outta here, Hanabusa.


  5. hossana:

    Hanabutta is the last person to tell Schatz to read something before commenting. Look at Hanabutta's dismal performance on O'Reilly's national syndicated show in January when she was asked if she had seen elements or the whole subject area that he presented earlier and finally she had to admit that she didn't. All the while she was commenting on a totally different subject than what he was talking about and if there was somebody that looked like a fool on national tv. at that, it was DEFINITELY HER. Geezus, how embarrassing for her and the State of Hawaii. Now in this debate, you can tell how desperate she is lunging at Schatz in her desperate endeavors like a child trying to get vindictive.....oh, my.....nope...just how qualified is she in terms of character and integrity to be a U.S. Senator........on issues, who ever gets elected will have to follow the party lines or they will be outed in the Senate so issues don't make a difference.....well, you get what you vote for......


  6. innocent observer:

    hanabusa clearly won the debate. schatz was substanceless, he merely kept hammering that he will protect social security, work for middle and working class, etc. but not specifics. it is easy to tout in generalities, it is the details that count. apparently he had no details, just empty general promises. why, because he had done absolutely nothing in the 18 months he was in congress. he immediately started to campaign for this election and ignore the important duties as a senator. he appears to not really understand the bills and what he votes for. he appears one who does not pay attention to details, which is crucial if you want to do a good job; you cannot rely on others on what to do, you must do your homework and he does not. I would not vote for him even if he was the only one running.


  7. Chicken Grease:

    Think in Hawaii, you don't WIN a debate if you're a mean A+$ in that debate or in your words (i.e., Mufi's li'l "I'm more local" jab when he was running 'gainst Abercrombie for gov').

    Can't believe Hanab[not my]USA would invoke a Hilarary Clinton, with her current book being shredded by reviewers and, well, whoever her opponent (don't even think she'll get as far as a primary, however) is in the primary he/she would do well to bring up Benghazi, wherein Hilary's own words will haunt here: "what does it matter?" A U.S. ambassador . . . dead when he could've been saved. "What does it matter?" Ain't going matter if it's "taken out of context." Can see the TV ad already -- "Hillary's view as a Secretary of State? [cue house hearinng cut] 'What does it matter?'" [Insert pic' of burned out ambassador's quarters].

    What. Does. It. Matter? That's Hillary's attitude. And Hanab[not my]USA wants to be in her company.


  8. ohiaforest3400:

    Kolea, despite your prior claim to be looking to the campaign to help you decide, it's been abundantly clear recently that you made up your mind a long time ago. But maybe there's still time to consider some facts about your preferred candidate, from one who still doesn't care for either of them.

    Brian has a Bachelor's degree, Colleen has a Bachelor's, a Master's, and a law degree.

    Colleen had upwards of 20 years work experience before Brian even got out of college.

    Brian and Colleen entered the state legislature at the same time; he was vice-chair of a couple committees; she chaired the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs committee, was Majority Leader, and then Senate President.

    Brian's political views are more left, like my own, than Colleen's, but I judge her to be more pragmatic -- and practical -- than he, in getting things done as a member of the minority, rather than taking safe positions as a junior member of the majority.

    I also think a lot of Brian's answers are canned, the product of intensive debate prep, not actual understanding. When he refers to Nouri Al-Maliki, as "president" of Iraq when he is prime minister, what comes out of his mouth afterwards doesn't carry much weight. When he claims to be chair of two Senate "committees" when he is chair of two SUB-committees, I question his commitment to veracity, or at least accuracy and precision.

    For me, this is rapidly becoming a choice between a rich, white kid who got the Senate seat because of his youth and his espoused -- not necessarily earned -- views and a woman who was given nothing and earned everything she got the hard way. That seems closer to the Democrat values you espouse.


  9. Chicken Grease:

    . . . a rich, white kid who got the Senate seat because of his youth and his espoused -- not necessarily earned -- views

    No. Could YOU see Abercrombie appointing the Hillary-supporting Hana[not my]USA? Gosh, Ohia', you overblow stuff sometimes (but, for the most part, a Grease loves ya' narratives). Plus Inouye supported Hillary also.

    You guys gotta read Ed Klein's Obama's vs. Clinton's book Blood Feud. Oh, mercy, so much drama.

    Got 'nough people Hana[not my]USA's age up in Washington. X-Generation's going to HAVE TO get up in there, up in there in droves at some point.

    Let's start it w/Hawaii :D.


  10. Especially Incognito:

    And still paying back his student loan.


  11. Especially Incognito:

    America is talking sequel to Mr. Smith goes to Washington.


  12. Chicken Grease:

    Especially Incognito:
    July 8th, 2014 at 2:03 pm
    And still paying back his student loan.

    What is your source?


  13. Especially Incognito:

    My source? You question my comment,
    Prove it needs a source.


  14. Chicken Grease:

    Especially Incognito:
    July 8th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    My source? You question my comment,
    Prove it needs a source.

    Well, it's one of the few things you've written that requires a source (Schatz can easily refute this and say, "oh, no, that's all paid"). Bunch of what you write (kakimasu in the Japanese language) are verse and, uh, suggestives based on ethnicities?

    Plus, as established earlier, Schatz is, apparently, a "rich white kid."

    So. Source. Are you gospel? Prrfft.


  15. Especially Incognito:

    Chicken Grease:
    July 8th, 2014 at 5:39 pm
    Especially Incognito:
    July 8th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    My source? You question my comment,
    Prove it needs a source.

    Well, it's one of the few things you've written that requires a source (Schatz can easily refute this and say, "oh, no, that's all paid"). Bunch of what you write (kakimasu in the Japanese language) are verse and, uh, suggestives based on ethnicities?

    Plus, as established earlier, Schatz is, apparently, a "rich white kid."

    So. Source. Are you gospel? Prrfft.


  16. Chicken Grease:

    Heh. You quoted me. Uh. Sort of.


  17. Hawaiino:

    Grease...

    Extraneously Inane's non sequiturs are best left as a speedbump on an open road. Don't try to understand why its there... that way lies madness... Beware the rabbit hole!


  18. Hawaiino:

    Back on topic
    O3400
    You're arguing qualifications (degrees, assignments, etc) between two extremely high achievers...not much to decide between when a 20 year age disparity is factored in. Of course that leads to the obvious POINT, one candidate has a lot more that can be accomplished in the future than the other. And it's extremely hard to believe that any skill set or trait that Colleen has makes up for her starting age and her personal baggage.
    She should have stayed in the House and proved her worth in that venue, instead ego ( hers) or need (Inouye food chain) led her to this precipice. At her age, and from her current position, a loss ends her career.
    Thus her snarky and hypocritical comments ( 1 vote...really?)


  19. Kolea:

    Ohia,

    I am surprised at your accusation that I am pretending to be neutral in the Senate race. If you are relying upon posts I made a few months ago, update your knowledge-base sister before you accuse me of dishonesty. I decided on supporting Schatz a few months ago. What might have thrown off your perception is that I still, on occasion, press for BOTH candidates to clarify their positions on issues of importance to me. Just because I have decided to support Schatz does not mean I am willing to let him off the hook from his responsibility to take good and clear stands.

    I can understand why some of my friends are supporting Hanabusa. Since she talks out of both sides of her mouth, one can cherrypick information to weave a narrative which makes her look good. But there is too much about her record, my personal dealings with her and her political alignments which I am unable to overlook.

    Her decision to go negative, after having used Ben Cayetano as her proxy in attacking Schatz, shows she is reading the same polls as the rest of us and is getting desperate. Unfortunately, it just reinforces her "negatives" when she should be showcasing her virtues. The "Tita From Waianae" schtick might appeal to those who WANT politics to be a "rough and tumble" game. But I think Senator Inouye demonstrated how one can be a heavyhitter while maintaining style and grace. It is Colleen who is "not ready" for the US Senate, not Brian. Yes, he needs to improve with even more experience, but he has the time to do that. At this stage, Colleen is chronologically unable to "improve with age." She is what she is. The same politician who struck sweetheart deals for developer Jeff Stone, betrayed the Civil Unions supporters, and ran interference for Dickie Wong, Henry Peters and Lokelani Lindsay to rip off the children who were SUPPOSED to be the beneficiaries of Pauahi Bishop's estate. She just moved her operations to Washington, DC, but her modus operandi remains the same, as exposed when an unfortunate leak pulled back the curtain on her office's deal with the pharmaceutical industry. Poor Colleen. She voted their way to raise costs on drugs for the elderly, but her aide got busted before she could collect the quo for her quid. (Or is it the quid for her quo?)


  20. Especially Incognito:

    Hawaiino:
    July 9th, 2014 at 8:15 am
    Grease...

    "Extraneously Inane's non sequiturs are best left as a speedbump on an open road. Don't try to understand why its there... that way lies madness... Beware the rabbit hole!"

    Beware of the behind of a Hawaii RINO.


  21. Especially Incognito:

    Hawaiino:
    July 9th, 2014 at 8:29 am

    "Back on topic
    O3400
    You're arguing qualifications (degrees, assignments, etc) between two extremely high achievers...not much to decide between when a 20 year age disparity is factored in. Of course that leads to the obvious POINT, one candidate has a lot more that can be accomplished in the future than the other. And it's extremely hard to believe that any skill set or trait that Colleen has makes up for her starting age and her personal baggage.
    She should have stayed in the House and proved her worth in that venue, instead ego ( hers) or need (Inouye food chain) led her to this precipice. At her age, and from her current position, a loss ends her career.
    Thus her snarky and hypocritical comments ( 1 vote...really?)"

    Seems back on subject is to Ad Hominem. Hawaii RINO, becareful you don't step on yourself. Worst than the comments you make.


  22. Especially Incognito:

    Hawaii Rino seems to want attention.
    Speak up Hawaii Rino. Hard to speak with foot in mouth?

    Seems the source of information is not original,
    as numerous times, the work of a plagiarist. How I know?
    Easy to search.


  23. itoboy:

    Hawaiino and Grease: Especially Incognito is just a chimp that keeps wanting to entertain us. I'm glad they fixed the exhibit.


  24. Especially Incognito:

    itoboy on Spring.me


  25. Especially Incognito:

    itoboy sounds so gay. says it is not.


  26. Especially Incognito:

    I see the 3 stooges have reunited.
    Hawaiiano, Chicken Grease and itoboy.


  27. Especially Incognito:

    Actually more like the Buttinsky trio.


  28. itoboy:

    I'm disappointed Especially Incognito (aka Extraneously Inane). It took you 4 responses to my 1, I thought you had a superior intellect (for a chimp). LOL!


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