Lingle, Djou Mum On Romney Rant09/19/2012
UPDATED 9/18/12 4:40 p.m.
The controversy over Mitt Romney's dismissal of the "47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes" shows no sign of disappearing.
It has led to great concern among many Republican politicians across the country — particularly those in tough election races — and some have already distanced themselves from their presidential nominee. There are also those who say they agree with Romney and praise him for speaking out.
Yet, Hawaii's top Republicans, Linda Lingle and Charles Djou, have not said anything about what has become the biggest political story of the campaign, a development that could impact not only the outcome of the presidential election but perhaps control of the U.S. Congress.
UPDATE The Lingle U.S. Senate campaign did not respond to Civil Beat's inquiries this week about Romney's remarks.1
But after this story was published, Lingle sent an email statement saying she does not agree with Romney's characterization of people receiving government assistance.
A spokesman for Djou's campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives said Tuesday that the candidate "has no comment on Gov. Romney's remarks at this time."
Lingle and Djou, of course, are running in the bluest of states, birthplace of the 44th president of the United States.
It's understandable that they might not want to embrace Romney's view that the 47 percent are people who believe they are "victims" entitled to health care, food, housing — "you name it," as Romney put it in remarks at a fundraiser earlier this year that were surreptitiously recorded.
To not "worry about those people" because he'll "never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," as Romney said, seems at odds with Hawaii's aloha spirit. Democrats Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa, who have stated repeatedly that Republicans do not share Hawaii's "values," are no doubt paying close attention to this developing story.
But the silence from Lingle and Djou also suggests a reluctance to show leadership on a major election year issue — government spending on entitlement programs. Lingle desires to be a national leader and has played up her willingness to speak out on controversial issues regardless of the politics.
For example, Lingle did not wait long to condemn the remark about "legitimate rape" by Rep. Todd Akin, a fellow Republican seeking a Senate seat from Missouri. Akin's comments last month — that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant because their bodies have a way "to try to shut that whole thing down" — was widely denounced by both parties. Some Republicans, including Romney, urged Akin to quit the Senate race.
Lingle's reluctance to speak out is also drawing political fire from Hirono, her U.S. Senate opponent. Hirono sent out a press release Wednesday afternoon condemning Romney's remarks and criticizing Lingle for remaining silent about them.
“Here in Hawaii, where President Obama was raised – where President Obama received over 71% of the vote in 2008 – Mitt Romney is writing off a whole lot of people," she said in what were prepared remarks for a speech to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. "People right here in this room."
Hirono, who called Romney's words "an outrage" and his views "unacceptable," noted that Lingle has said she is proud to co-chair Romney's campaign committee yet now remains silent.
The speech sure seems to have strong legs, and, as in Hawaii, it is surfacing in congressional contests throughout the country.
The Lingle campaign sent a statement from the candidate late Wednesday after this article was already published: "Despite Mazie Hirono's best efforts, the people of Hawaii know that this election for the U.S. Senate is about she and I, not Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, President Obama or Vice President Biden. Mitt Romney is running his national campaign, and I am running my campaign here at home. Mazie Hirono's repeated attempts to nationalize this election are proof that she does not have a record of accomplishment for the people of Hawaii and she must campaign on fear tactics and national party talking points, rather than her own plans for our future. I am not a rubber stamp for the national party and I am not responsible for the statements of Mitt Romney. With that said, I do not agree with his characterization of all individuals who are receiving government assistance, as I know many of them are driven, hard-working individuals who are actively working to better the situation of their 'ohana. It is not fair to place these individuals into any one category. The people of Hawaii know I don't believe in labels and I know they don't either." ↩