KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Senate candidates Mazie Hirono and Ed Case faced off on Maui on Tuesday. The AARP Hawaii debate focused on issues concerning Hawaii's seniors. The democratic rivals appeared in front of dozens of residents in Kahului for the highly-anticipated one-hour debate.
During their second debate of the election season, the opponents agreed on some issues facing Hawaii's aging population, such as the need to preserve Social Security and Medicare.
"There are a number of suggestions being made, but I'll tell you one thing I won't do. I will not support privatizing Social Security, and I also won't support raising the retirement age," said Hirono.
Ed Case opposes privatization. He also said sometimes unpopular decisions need to be made. He supports gradually raising the retirement age so that the change wouldn't affect anyone currently on Social Security or close to receiving benefits.
"I believe that there is a place, as we did in 1983, to slowly adjust the retirement age up from 67 which it hits in 2027 and then balances out at that point," said Case. "I think that is a fair deal to give people in their 20's and 30's a chance to get ready for that."
When asked about their sharpest differences, Hirono pointed to their leadership styles.
"I don't stand on the sidelines and say I'm independent and not work with my colleagues both in my own caucus and across the aisle," said Hirono.
"I've never stood on the sidelines in my entire political career. I was majority leader in the state house. I worked collaboratively in the U.S. Congress," countered Case.
Case also tried to set himself apart from his opponent.
"With respect to Mazie, I really don't really know what the differences are because she has not been forthcoming with her record and with her agenda," said Case.
"I think people know enough about my record and they know that I stand with them. They're looking for someone who can work in a collaborative way which is what I bring," Hirono said.
Voters left the debate supporting different candidates.
"Ed Case because I know him better," said Kahana resident Barb Newton.
"I really like her. I like her style," said Kihei resident Sandy Farmer-Wiley.
The candidates agreed to five forums, but the Oahu County Democrats postponed their event. It hasn't been rescheduled yet. Hirono declined a substitute debate.
The candidates meet again for Hawaii Public Radio's debate on Tuesday. Their final scheduled joint appearance is a candidate forum on Thursday night on PBS Hawaii.