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Djou, Hanabusa grapple over ads, Bush tax cuts

The candidates point out that outside money is funding attacks, not airing their positions

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 9:30 p.m. HST, Oct 21, 2010

Congressional candidates Charles Djou and Colleen Hanabusa exchanged barbs over the influence of outside money in their race as they went on air last night for their first televised debate of the general election season.

With polls showing the race virtually even, money from groups including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have flooded local airwaves. According to CNN, GOP strategist Karl Rove's American Crossroads group is expected to begin airing ads in Hawaii today in support of Djou.

Djou, the Republican incumbent, noted the DCCC has spent more than $700,000 already "on negative attack ads against me."

"They haven't spent one penny saying a good thing about Colleen Hanabusa, their second-choice candidate in the congressional race," he said, referring to the DCCC's support of Democrat Ed Case in the special election last May.

Djou won the special election with 40 percent of the vote as Democrats were unable to rally behind a single candidate.

Hanabusa agreed that she was not the DCCC's first choice, leading her to the conclusion that Djou's time in Congress has turned some of his colleagues against him. She noted that the DCCC consists of Democrats serving in Congress.

"I can only assume that the reason they've stepped it up is -- like you said, Charles, they're not saying stuff about me, they're saying stuff about you -- it must be their opinion of you," she said.

The two covered familiar ground on health care reform and the level of partisanship in Washington, D.C., but sparred again on the issue of continuing the Bush tax cuts.

Hanabusa accused Djou of willing to "burden the next generation" by extending the cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. She supports allowing the cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000.

Djou said doing so would be devastating for the private sector and small-business owners who fall into that category.

"We're in the middle of an economic recession," he said. "The worst thing to do is raise taxes and suck more money out of the private sector."

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