HONOLULU (KHNL) - It will clearly be the most closely watched race of the election season. Representative Ed Case versus Senator Dan Akaka, for his seat in Congress. Thursday night, the two squared off in a televised debate.
On one side, Ed Case who has served in the U.S. House since 2002. At 53, he says this is the time to phase in the next generation of lawmakers. And on the other side, veteran senator Daniel Akaka, who has served Hawaii in Congress since 1976. At 82 years of age he wasted little time in addressing his age, and makes no apologies for it:
"When I think of those who are up in age in the United States Senate, those men are considered to be the deans of the Senate. Other senators go to them for advice and they are the ones that keep the Senate stable" said Akaka.
"I reject the proposals and the movement that has been put forward by Senator Akaka that this is about age. This is not about age. This is about reality. This is about transition" said Case.
On the war in Iraq the candidates offered differing opinions:
"We cannot withdraw unilaterally, unconditionally and on a firm timetable and expect that there are not going to be negative consequences. We must accomplish these goals and disengage" said Case.
"I am calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by July 2007 and I'm doing it because I feel that we must put pressure on the Iraqi government to take responsibility for it's own security" said Akaka.
Finally, on the native Hawaiian recognition bill:
"For now I believe this issue is best left in the native Hawaiian community so they can deal with the failure of the Akaka Bill in the U.S. Senate and decide the way forward" said Case.
"This bill is very, very important to the people of Hawaii and to the native Hawaiians. And it is something that this nation owes them" said Akaka.
After the hour-long debate Case walked over to Akaka's side of the stage where the two shook hands and then quickly embraced.
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