HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ed Case and Mazie Hirono traded jabs and took every opportunity to outline the differences between them in their only major televised debate before the August 11 primary election.
The debate comes the same day the Hawaii News Now/ Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll showed Hirono leading case by double digits, including wide margins with democratic voters, voters who live on the neighbor islands, and voters in households with union members.
"Well, we've taken a close look at that poll, and of course that poll is contrary to three other polls that were recently conducted and released, one by me, one by (former governor and Republican senate candidate Linda) Lingle and one by independent Civil Beat," said Case during the debate. "All of which showed us tied right now going into the final weeks."
"I'm very gratified that the people of Hawaii are responding to my message, which is we need a new senator who shares our values, who stands with them and has stood with them for -- ever since I've been in elected office, which is a long time," said Hirono.
The Hawaii Poll shows Case dominates Hirono among independent voters and with Republicans who said they will vote in the Democratic primary.
"Ed is so fond of saying that I'm so far to the left, and yet I vote 95 percent of the time with the good bills that, that the Democrats put forward, but clearly I know how to get things done and work with my caucus," said Hirono.
"Mazie is not talking to the issue. The issue is getting things done and fixing issues on the big picture issues," Case responded. "How do we grow our national economy? How do we balance our national budget? How do we preserve social security and medicare so that my children have what I'm going to have?"
The two candidates also sparred over their views and votes on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"She voted for a bill that would have cut off funding of Afghanistan, cut off the funding of that war and forced the withdrawal, I think prematurely and unwisely," said Case.
"Ed supported President Bush's plan to go to war in Iraq. I did not. That war and the cost in lives and to our treasury, a trillion dollars," Hirono countered.
Hirono also pointed out that she voted against extending tax breaks put into place under President George W. Bush. "The fact is that Ed voted to extend the tax breaks for the very richest in terms of capital gains. He extended the Bush tax cuts in '04 and '06. That is a difference between me and Ed," she said.
Case was asked if he had regrets about running against now-retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka six years ago. "I put that to voters and the voters made a very clear decision. Their decision was that they didn't want to go in that direction. I accept that, and I moved on. So from my perspective, yes there is some regret in what's unfolded, but that's then and this is now," said Case.
This is the final debate before voters have the final say 16 days from now.