U.S. Rep. Charles Djou’s latest television ad, featuring crashing waves and tsunami warning sirens, "crossed the line" and insults Hawaii voters, Democratic opponent Colleen Hanabusa contends.
"This is probably one of the worst negative ads that I have ever seen," Hanabusa said at a news conference yesterday.
» Paid for by: Djou for Hawaii; Hawaii Republican Party
Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Jonah Ka’auwai said the ad is in response to a series of negative attacks first unleashed by "the national Democratic establishment" attempting to smear the incumbent Djou.
The ad, paid for by Djou and the state Republican Party, opens with ominous scenes of storm clouds and strong winds while tsunami warning sirens sound in the background. A narrator declares Hawaii residents are "bracing for the onslaught" and bashes Democrats’ smears of Djou.
It states Hanabusa has supported increased regulations on small businesses that "strangle" local jobs, voted to increase taxes on families and accepted a pay raise during the state’s recent financial crisis.
"It’s a simplistic statement of what she stands for," said University of Hawaii political scientist Neil Milner. "In all of the negative ads, the heart of the matter is they have a kernel of truth to them."
The ad’s fine print cites numerous bills that Hanabusa voted on during her legislative career to back its claims. Hanabusa said yesterday she was still examining "the whole battery of bills" to determine how the ad reached its conclusions, but said she believes the campaign should concentrate on substantive issues.
"I’m convinced that we should argue issues," she said. "I have no reason to believe that this ad serves anything else other than to sensationalize. … We have more than ample opportunity to talk about issues that are relevant and matter to the people of Hawaii."
Ka’auwai noted that none of the ads taken out by Hanabusa or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have touted her record, adding: "This ad simply sounds the alarm for voters who should understand that a vote for Hanabusa is a vote for higher taxes, more union -boss and special-interest favors, and fewer jobs for the people of Hawaii."
Milner said the ad "raises the emotional content" compared to previous ads. "It’s really all about criticizing her, so in that sense it’s a half step up from what we’ve had before," he said.
"What you’re seeing, I think, is the last stages of a campaign where the two people are very different in terms of what policies they’re standing for," he added. "What Djou is trying to do here is getting people to think the choice of Hanabusa is really a frightening choice."