HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The two women running to replace Dan Akaka in the U.S. Senate faced off in their fifth and final live broadcast debate Monday night on Hawaii News Now.
Democrat Mazie Hirono and Republican Linda Lingle answered questions from panelists, themselves and social media during the hour-long debate, co-sponsored by HNN and the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
The candidates staked out familiar positions as they tried to differentiate themselves for voters 15 days from Election Day.
"Are you going to vote for someone who is tied to the national Republican agenda? Or are you going to vote for someone who shares your priorities right here at home?" asked Hirono.
Lingle told the audience, "The next person we send to Washington, D.C. to be a senator should be a leader, not a follower. My opponent has no history of leadership. Her campaign has been built on the record of others."
Hirono said she will work with President Barack Obama, but Lingle had a different approach.
"I'm not going to Washington to support Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. I'm going there to support the people of Hawaii. That's who my obligation is to, that's who put their trust in me and that's who I'll represent," Lingle said.
Hirono said there's a lot at stake in this race because the outcome in Hawaii could decide whether the Democrats lose their slim majority in the U.S. Senate.
"Our state cannot afford to send Linda Lingle to the US Senate where she will be one of four Republicans to take control and push their anti-family, anti-working people agenda," Hirono said.
Asked what parts of the federal budget they would cut, Hirono said, "One of the areas that we should go after is fraud and waste in Medicare. We know that that will add up to some $700 million that we can save in the system."
While Lingle said she'd consider reducing spending on foreign aid.
"While I'm a supporter of engagement in the world and interacting with other nations, some of that foreign aid that we give, I think, is going to countries that just don't deserve it. And I think we need to take a closer look," Lingle said.
Lingle also said she'd target pork barrel spending, such as a $20 million appropriation to create a Pakistani version of the children's television show Sesame Street.
The debate got some national interest while it was on the air. The hash tag #HIvote trended as one of the top ten most mentioned topics on Twitter in the United States as the debate unfolded Monday night.