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Hirono, Case agree on visa programs, disagree on timing

By Derrick DePledge


U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono on Tuesday said easing visa restrictions for Chinese visitors could fuel tourism in Hawaii, but former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who also favors the legislation, said the bill's lack of prog­ress in Congress suggests Hirono is not effective.

At the first of five joint appearances in the Demo­cratic primary for U.S. Senate — a forum sponsored by the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association — Hirono said lifting visa restrictions on visitors from China would help with job creation and economic growth. She said her bill, which would allow the Chinese to apply for five-year multiple entry visas to the United States instead of just one-year visas, shows her ability to collaborate.

But Case noted that the bill that Hirono introduced in November has just six co-sponsors and has not moved from a House subcommittee. He questioned why Hirono waited to introduce the bill. "People need a senator that works all six years, not just in an election year," Case said. "That's what I will do."

Hirono said her bill was co-sponsored by a Republican and is supported by business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor interests such as Unite Here!, the union that represents hotel workers. She asked anyone in the audience at Hilton Hawaiian Village to raise their hands if they did not like the bill.

"I see no hands," she said, "because we recognize, we understand how important it is to be very focused on what we need to do to promote tourism, not just to Hawaii, but to our country."

The issue shows the challenge for voters as they evaluate Hirono and Case before the August primary. The policy differences between the candidates on many issues — like tourism — are based on emphasis and nuance.

Hirono cited her push to add South Korea to the federal visa-waiver program, which has opened up a potentially lucrative tourism market for Hawaii. The visa waiver program enables people from three dozen countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without getting visas.

But Case also has supported adding South Korea to the waiver program.

Case said that unlike Hirono he would have voted for a free trade agreement with South Korea that Congress approved in October. The U.S. trade representative has described the trade agreement as the most commercially significant in nearly two decades.

Both Hirono and Case believe Hawaii needs a role in Brand USA, a federal campaign that began last year to promote the United States to foreign tourists.

Hirono said she has secured an additional $6 million in federal money a year for airport modernization in Hawaii, which could improve the visitor experience.

Case said the state should diversify tourism outside of a Waikiki-centric model, such as through ecology- or science-based activities.

Hirono referred to her financial struggles growing up — her mother fled an abusive husband in Japan to bring her children to Hawaii — and said it helps her understand the challenges of many hotel workers during the economic downturn.

Case weaved his campaign theme of balancing the federal budget and ending the political gridlock in Washington as necessary for economic and tourism revival.

The questions at the forum, asked by moderator by Paula Akana of KITV, were submitted by members of the tourism association. Hirono and Case did not have the opportunity to question each other directly.

John Carroll, a former state legislator and attorney running in the Republican primary for Senate, also participated in the forum, which diffused the one-on-one exchanges between the two Demo­crats. Former Gov. Linda Lingle, the leading Republican candidate, did not include the forum on her schedule.

KITV broadcast a recording of the forum on a sister digital channel Tuesday night and plans a rebroadcast on Saturday afternoon. Case has complained that Hirono declined to accept debate invitations from commercial television networks, instead choosing a televised forum on PBS Hawaii in June.

Hirono told reporters afterward that her bill easing visa restrictions for Chinese tourist could take time, like adding South Korea to the waiver program did. "So it takes a little while, but believe me, the president recognizes how important China is and what changes we need to make to the visa policies, so this is an idea whose time has come," she said.

Case said Hirono had five years in Congress to introduce the bill but did not until she was running for the Senate. "Drafting and introducing a bill is very simple," he told reporters. "Doing something about it after you do it is what the issue is."

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MalamaKaAina wrote:
Anybody but Mazie!
on May 30,2012 | 01:52AM
Changalang wrote:
She has done nothing and only acts like she is doing something in election years while taking huge monetary donations from D.C. special interests for her re-election campaign. Hawaii deserves better; including a chance for a televised debate on any local news channel.
on May 30,2012 | 06:01AM
OldDiver wrote:
Linda Lingle has done nothing and only acts like she is doing something in election years while taking huge monetary donations from D.C. special interests for her re-election campaign. Hawaii deserves better; including a chance for a televised debate on any local news channel.
on May 30,2012 | 11:31AM
Changalang wrote:
Agree 100 %. That is why we need a clean candidate in the Senate for Hawaii. Thank you for agreeing with me that the bought and paid for D.C. puppets in both parties, Lingle (R) and Mazie (D), need to be shunned and Ed Case must move Hawaii Forward in the Senate.
on May 30,2012 | 02:14PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Lingle or Case. Anybody but the puppet Hirono.
on May 30,2012 | 04:20PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
ABM = Anti-Ballistic Missile = Automatic Defensive Missle = Anybody but Mazie = Anti Barack Methodology = Anti Bulletin Methods = Automatic Based Meanderers = Aye Best Me = Aye Better Must. I need Google.
on May 31,2012 | 05:10AM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Does Mazie have to be a registered lobbyist for all the work she is doing for the citizens of China. I thought America was facing big challenges. I wonder what her priorities really are?
on May 30,2012 | 02:18AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Let me see if I can be a psychic and just say what is in the minds of the three candidates, just by studying their facial expressions and body languages in the pic:

John Carroll: "Man what did I get myself into, only my immediate Ohana is going to vote for me."

Ed Case: "Yes sir, I am a outstanding citizen and sir, I shall do everything that u ask me to do. By the way, u cannot order me around, even though you outrank me".

Mazie Hirono: "I told you how many times not to leave the refrigerator door OPEN !! It invites food decay and the waste of delicious food as well as the wasting of electricity."

sidebar: Dave Shapiro, if u need an assistant, please hire me.

on May 30,2012 | 03:40AM
Keith_Rollman wrote:
It would have been nice to have some reporting on what Carroll had to say. The editors at Star Advertiser are clearly behind Lingle, but it was she who actually said nothing, not John. She didn't even bother to show up. I'm surprised the SA didn't photoshop John out of the picture, like Stalin used to do.
on May 30,2012 | 07:12AM
Changalang wrote:
Carroll did have a pretty good line to wrap. You still got it. ;)
on May 30,2012 | 08:09AM
OldDiver wrote:
Psychology of Linda Lingle.............I fooled the fools twice before. I will fool them again.
on May 30,2012 | 11:35AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Eeny meeny miney moe....who to pick I just don't know.....Mazie is too hazy....Case is too base......Eeeny meeny miney moe....
on May 30,2012 | 03:57AM
Changalang wrote:
Bet Lingle gives you a tingle. Check your pockets. She robbed us blind.
on May 30,2012 | 06:02AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Mr Lingle makes me the tingle but my money no longer jingle because he blew it all on the Super Fairy.
on May 30,2012 | 06:48AM
Changalang wrote:
LOL. Let's not forget the $1.09 Billion Hawaii taxpayer's money via malfeasance lost in the Auction Rate Security Fiasco by Governor Sting-le. All about fiscal pain for Hawaii.
on May 30,2012 | 08:11AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
I read about this in the HA. However your greatest accomplishment was creating Sting-le.
on May 30,2012 | 04:34PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
on May 30,2012 | 04:35PM
inHilo wrote:
Are these are only choices? For senator! Same names, same stories. I thought Lingle was going to build an opposition party and bring in new faces!?
on May 30,2012 | 06:33AM
Keith_Rollman wrote:
John Carroll actually made a lot of sense and did well. See for yourself on KITV, Saturday at 4:00. Lingle is the one who didn't bother to show up.
on May 30,2012 | 07:09AM
allie wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on May 30,2012 | 07:28AM
OldDiver wrote:
I disagree.......Lingle did show up and lost badly.......her response was always the same, silence.
on May 30,2012 | 11:39AM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Israeli interests? What are you, an anti-semite?
on May 30,2012 | 04:22PM
false wrote:
Hirono's emphasis of her mother is beginning to sound like a broken record.
on May 30,2012 | 07:37AM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
She has nothing to run on. What else is she going to do?
on May 30,2012 | 04:24PM
Changalang wrote:
Wow, active thread editing/reduction. The Machine must be very worried.
on May 30,2012 | 08:13AM
Changalang wrote:
I'll take it as a complement. No hard feelings; just the facts. The truth will set us free. :)
on May 30,2012 | 08:31AM
false wrote:
Mazie will win the primary. Too many locals still remember Ed's broken promise. Not recyclable.
on May 30,2012 | 11:49AM
Changalang wrote:
Then, Hawaii has already lost.
on May 30,2012 | 02:10PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Correction: Does Mazie support Thielen running in the democrat primary?
on May 30,2012 | 05:17PM
Changalang wrote:
Just ask the guy with his hand up her back. She will mouth the words of her puppeteer better than Kermit the Frog. Star power, that Mazie oozes.
on May 30,2012 | 05:24PM
GorillaSmith wrote:
The nation desparately needs Lingle in the Senate. DEM lemmings: P-L-E-A-S-E nominate Flak-o-Keiko /aka Lazy Mazie. She might be ashamed of her real name but that sounds like a personal problem. And we thank you for your pathology. Go Mitt!
on May 31,2012 | 12:40AM
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