HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The debate is on between Republican Charles Djou and Democrat Mark Takai. For the first time Hawaii's Congressional Candidates for district one squared off face to face in front of 100 of the state's top business leaders from the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
There are a lot of similarities between Charles Djou and Mark Takai. Both claim to be centrists. Both are serving in the military. They're both Asian American, in their 40's and married with children. The joke was what sets them apart is one drives a Honda the other a Nissan. But tonight did highlight some surprising differences.
Difference one, taxes. Republican Charles Djou pounced on the opportunity to point out that Democrat Mark Takai has repeatedly voted to raise taxes during his 20 years at the State Legislature.
"Mark you voted to raise the excise tax, the income tax the rental car tax, the conveyance tax, the hotel room tax, the airline tax, the cigarette tax, the barrel oil tax, and you even voted to tax the pensions on our seniors," said Djou, when questioning Takai.
"What's important is to focus on the final reading. In those cases I will tell you that it is important sometimes to increase taxes," responded Takai.
Takai countered by asking Djou somewhat of a softball question.
"If your solution advocates reduction of taxes specifically which taxes would you lower?" said Takai, when questioning Djou.
Djou responded with eliminating loopholes for big businesses, but also lowering the corporate tax so companies don't send jobs and factories overseas.
"What you'll see happen here is, is that incentive for American businesses to invert and flip to go to a foreign country suddenly disappear and you'll actually see an increase in revenues," said Djou.
Another area they differed was on the recent military strikes in Syria. When asked how they would have voted Republican Djou agreed with President Obama while Democrat Takai did not.
"I do believe that arming and training Syrian rebels reminds me of arming and training those military people in Afghanistan who eventually became the Taliban," said Takai.
"While I am disappointed that the President I think took a little too long to develop a strategy for dealing and confronting Isis, I am happy he has now moved forward with a clear strategy to hit Isis with air strikes to build a diplomatic coalition and confront this very serious growing problem."
Both were cordial. Takai even applauded Djou's closing statement.
A recent Civil Beat poll shows Djou has a four percentage point lead over Takai. In a tight race voters may have a tough time deciding who gets their vote.
While this was the first face to face debate between the two, Djou points out there were four other events Takai didn't show up to.
The two candidates will square off again on October 12 right here on Hawaii News Now.