The visit to Hawaii by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was brief — less than 24 hours — but it was stamped with a few interesting impressions of the Aloha State.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye introduced Clinton to a crowd of several hundred at the Kahala Hotel and Resort yesterday morning before she gave a speech on America’s engagement with Asia and the Pacific.
Clinton, herself a former U.S. senator, thanked Inouye in turn.
"There isn’t anyone active in public service today," Clinton said of Inouye, "who has done more in more capacities to really represent the American dream and to firmly root it in the soil of his native Hawaii and to represent, in the very best American tradition, the soldier, the Medal of Honor winner, the senator and just an all-around wonderful man."
Among others, Clinton recognized state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, Mayor Peter Carlisle and former Govs. George Ariyoshi, Ben Cayetano and John Waihee and his wife, Lynne.
"When you’ve been in and around American politics as long as my husband and I have been, you make a lot of friends over the years," she said.
Clinton told the group she was "delighted to return to Hawaii."
Hawaii’s tradewinds, and a front-page newspaper photo of Clinton experiencing them at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam upon her arrival Wednesday, resulted in a venue change for her speech yesterday at the Kahala Hotel.
"The original idea for this speech is that we were going to do it outside," Clinton told the audience. "And if you saw the front page of the newspaper this morning where I was being greeted by Adm. (Robert) Willard with my hair straight up in the wind, we decided we didn’t want another story about my hair.
"So we appreciate the hotel accommodating us and allowing us to meet inside, although granted, the lure of the beauty of Hawaii is right out those doors," she added.
Clinton’s motorcade went straight to the Kahala Hotel after she arrived at about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday at Hickam.
She met with Japan’s new foreign minister, Seiji Maehara, that evening, and before heading behind closed doors for two hours of talks, the two exchanged gifts.
Clinton gave Maehara, a train buff, a scale model locomotive and coal car with "Denver & Rio Grande" on the side.
Maehara gave Clinton two crystal wine glasses. Clinton told the foreign minister she would use them to make a toast with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.