Hanabusa Takes Round One in Djou Rematch

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

In their first debate before a large audience this election, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa repeatedly questioned challenger Charles Djou's voting record when he briefly represented Hawaii in Washington, D.C.

One of those votes, said Hanabusa, was against funding billions of dollars for military programs including construction projects in Hawaii and support for veterans.

Djou, who served a six-month tour in Afghanistan that ended in March, rejected any allegation that he did not care about his fellow service members.

"I've served our country, I've seen the very best and worst of humanity," said Djou. "I have seen the selfless sacrifice made by so many of our veterans."

But Hanabusa said she wasn't questioning Djou's loyalty or patriotism, noting the vote came before Djou was sent to a war zone.

"I still want an answer," she said to Djou. "Was there something in the bill you did not like?"

Djou finally said that just because he wants to reduce government funding doesn't mean he doesn't support important programs. He tried to brush off Hanabusa's question as an example of the "inside baseball" that goes on in Congress.

Maybe so, but it also represented the scoring of debate points for Hanabusa. After all, Djou is making his military service a centerpiece of his campaign, and Hanabusa made it seem as if he couldn't explain not giving veterans government support.

The debate was sponsored by Hawaii Public Radio and broadcast live on HPR-2 (KIPO, KIPM, KIPH). HPR Political Reporter Wayne Yoshioka moderated.

Civil Beat notes other highlights from the debate.

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