Congressional candidates clash in live TV debate

Published On: Jul 07 2014 11:32:00 PM HST

A defining debate for a pair of congressional candidates.

Hawaii viewers got their first chance to see Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz debate their differences on live television.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' report.

Schatz is the incumbent U.S. Senator. Hanabusa, a U.S. Representative, is the challenger.

Both Schatz and Hanabusa are democrats and agree on a lot of important issues: developing renewable energy, native Hawaiian self-determination and even the influence of the late Senator Daniel Inouye.

Early in the debate though they started to show their differences.

Schatz wholeheartedly supports President Barack Obama, Hanabusa has some reservations.

"I'm proud to stand shoulder and shoulder with him. I am one of his strongest allies in the Senate," stated Schatz.

"Where I have parted with the President is with Syria and Iraq and that he invoked the war powers act, just recently in his actions in Iraq," stated Hanabusa.

The candidates also disagreed over the issue of national security, brought to light by Edward Snowden.

"I was against the reauthorization of the foreign intelligence act, known as FISA, and it was for one simple reason: it did not protect our privacy within the confines of the Fourth amendment. I don't believe FISA was being administered properly and the surveillance state has gone off the edge," stated Schatz.

"Brian, you have to start to read the bills to really understand what you're talking about. You didn't vote to end FISA, you voted to give the president unlimited power -- just like George Bush and Chaney," stated Hanabusa.

Then the gloves really came off as the candidates got a chance to ask questions to each other.

"Colleen, in 2013 you voted to require the use of the Simpson-Bowles budget plan. Senior citizens and labor groups criticized this because it would do the following: Cut social security and raise the retirement age, cut medicare benefits...Do you regret this vote or stand by it?" questioned Schatz.

"You again misstate what I did and what a vote is," countered Hanabusa.

"Colleen, you didn't answer the question because you took a bad vote," said Schatz.

One of the biggest moments of the debate came from a question that didn't even get an answer. A question about Schatz's chief of staff Andy Weiner and Weiner's involvement in a different election campaign to keep former governor Ben Cayetano from being elected as Honolulu Mayor.

"What did you know about Andy's deplorable smear as you call it and when did you know it?" asked Hanabusa.

In addition to criticizing each other, each of the candidates got a chance to point out something positive their opponent has done for the state.

"I think one of the things she did well was convene the Felix consent decree special investigative committee that proved to be useful for state government in terms of getting our arms around spending that was a little out of control," said Schatz.

"The one thing I admire about Brian is he is a survivor. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress and he managed to come back as the head of the Democratic Party. Then he won as Lt. Governor and then he convinced Neil Abercrombie that he should be appointed to the U.S. Senate. That's an amazing feat. One vote created somebody as the United States Senator for the state of Hawaii. That is something you gotta admire," said Hanabusa.

Click here to vote about the debate in our online poll.

PHOTOS: Behind the scenes of the U.S. Senate debate

Click here to see behind the scenes photos at the debate.


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