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Lingle Contradicts Statements Made to Big Island Now in TV Debate

October 19, 2012, 3:03 PM HST
* Updated October 19, 3:12 PM
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At a debate on Tuesday, Oct. 16, Rep. Mazie Hirono posed a simple question to her opponent in the race for the United States Senate, former governor Linda Lingle.

Specifically, did Lingle still believe George W. Bush was the “greatest president ever”?

Lingle flatly denied having ever made that statement, telling Hirono to “cite where that was said, because it’s not a statement I ever made” and going on to reaffirm that the quote “never happened.”

This denial seemed to surprise Hirono. Quite frankly, it was a head-scratcher for us as well.

That’s because back in September, Big Island Now attempted to fact-check that quote, contacting both campaigns to verify its existence. Lingle’s campaign responded, affirming that she had made the statement, and lending some context to it:

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“By all accounts, Linda Lingle made the reference about President Bush in 2002. The context was in relation to his actions in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. After the horrific attack on our country, Americans needed real leadership, and President Bush provide strong, determined and calm, decisive actions.

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As a point of fact, President Bush enjoyed approval ratings in the mid-70s from the American people at that time.”

It’s unclear if Lingle was aware her own campaign had contacted us back in September.

Lingle appears to have reversed course on having described George W. Bush as our “greatest president.”

Yesterday the Honolulu Star Advertiser printed an email Lingle sent Honolulu Advertiser columnist David Shapiro, who wrote about the 2002 Republican National Convention, where Lingle allegedly first made the remark.

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In the decade-old letter, Lingle acknowledged the quote, and attempted to explain it, writing:

“You would have to pick up on the `greatest President ever’ line that I misspoke. It was not in my notes and I meant to say a great president.

Whether Lingle intended to deceive viewers on Tuesday, or simply had a poor recollection of those events, is a pending question. We reached out to her campaign for clarification, but as of press time they had not responded.

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