LIHUE — Some members of the Kauai Republican Party and a Hawaii congresswoman are criticizing a series of remarks made by the GOP’s candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.
Over the past few weeks, 2nd Congressional District Republican candidate Angela Kaaihue issued controversial press releases attacking the character and religious values of her Democratic opposition Tulsi Gabbard, some Hawaii politicians, people of Japanese ancestry and non-Christians.
“What she should do is state clearly what her position is and why it works: limited government, constitutional government,” said Steve Yoder, Kauai County Committee chairman. “(Kaaihue should) show the difference between her and her opposition. Show how their strategy hasn’t worked. You don’t have to call anybody names.”
In a press release that calls Hawaii a “Devil Democratic State,” Kaaihue criticizes Gabbard for being Hindu and some Japanese politicians for being Buddhist.
The 42-year-old said she is “taking a stand for God” in her first try for Congress.
“We’ve been taken over by Buddhist politicians who dominate our political, economic and social welfare system; along with Hinduism now,” Kaaihue told The Garden Island Thursday.
Sandra Combs, District 14 GOP candidate, said Kaaihue’s remarksare “completely uncalled for.”
“If she really wanted to espouse what the character of the Republican party is, she would be reaching out and loving the people and helping them reach their full potential — not tear people down,” Combs said.
Rep. Gabbard said she is saddened “to see so much hatred being spewed in the name of Christianity.”
“We all need to make it clear that religious and racial bigotry has no place in our Aloha State or our country,” Gabbard said. “From my perspective as a Hindu, there is only one supreme being who has many names — we are all his children, regardless of our race or religion.”
Gabbard said during her deployments to the Middle East, she experienced the negative effects of mixing sectarianism with politics.
“So many lives have been lost,” she said. “So many people, including our own men and women in uniform, have suffered because of it.”
Kaaihue said she’s entitled to talk about her religion, as it is her constitutional right.
“People are calling me religious and a bigot, and here I’m talking about my religion and exercising my American right to freedom of religion,” she said. “You either believe in Christianity or you don’t. There’s only black or white. There’s only good or bad.”
Fritz Rohlfing, Hawaii Republican Party chair, in a statement said the inflammatory comments made by Kaaihue do not represent the views, values, or the sentiments of the Republican party or its members.
“Her vulgar, racially-bigoted, and religiously-intolerant descriptions of Democratic Party candidates are offensive, shameful, and unacceptable in public discourse,” Rohlfing said. “I unconditionally denounce her despicable statements. I strongly urge all Hawaii Republicans to join me in disavowing her candidacy.”
Kaaihue said Rohlfing needs to replaced.
“He is putting my faith and religion down, and talking about God and Christianity is my freedom of religion,” she said. “I think Mr. Rohlfing needs to repent, ask God (to forgive him) for his sins because he messed with God’s messenger.”
Combs said she doesn’t endorse or support Kaaihue.
“I will vote for Tulsi Gabbard over her,” Combs said. “The ideals that the Republican party is about is personal responsibility. It’s about looking at yourself and your own character and are you a contributing member of society and how you do to contribute.”
Kaaihue said the Hawaii GOP needs to stand united.
“If they’re not going to endorse me, then what does that tell you about our Republican party? It’s uncalled for,” she said.
At some point, Kaaihue said she will switch gears and talk about issues like energy, homelessness and traffic.
“My focus right now is me sharing the gospel and talking about Christianity.”