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Hawaii Senate debate on same day as presidential nominees

By Oskar Garcia

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:36 p.m. HST, Oct 16, 2012

Hawaii’s candidates for U.S. Senate planned to debate Tuesday night, a few hours after President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney take stage for their second presidential debate. 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and Republican former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle were expected to debate in primetime Hawaii time on KITV-TV. The debate is cosponsored by news website Civil Beat.

Obama and Romney will debate in New York five hours earlier than the Senate candidates, but their showdown will re-air in Hawaii at the same time Hirono and Lingle are debating.

The Senate candidates are competing for a seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is retiring. 

Lingle has been running on the pitch that she’s a Republican with more moderate values, and Hawaii needs one Democrat and one Republican in the Senate. Hawaii’s voters lean heavily Democratic and are expected to strongly back Obama, who was born in Honolulu, in the presidential race.

Hirono argues Lingle is in line with national Republicans, including Romney and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. She says she’ll be the stronger ally for Obama and Hawaii’s values.

Hirono’s campaign on Tuesday released a two-minute online video comparing Lingle’s comments on taxes, the deficit and health care with comments made by Romney, Ryan and 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. A shorter campaign ad with the same argument has been airing for Hirono on television.

Lingle’s campaign on Monday touted the support of two Alaska lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Don Young, who supported Hirono in the Democratic primary and appeared in an ad for her. Lingle says Hirono has been an ineffective Congresswoman and doesn’t properly understand the issued she’d have to make decisions on as a U.S. senator. 

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