As political soundbites go, it’s pretty memorable:

Linda Lingle gave us Furlough Fridays. On November 6, let’s furlough Linda Lingle.”

That comes from Mazie Hirono, the U.S. representative seeking a promotion to the U.S. Senate, who spoke to the Democratic Party of Hawaii state convention Sunday in Waikiki.

The soundbite neatly recalls perhaps the most difficult, and disappointing, part of Lingle’s tenure as governor — the temporary furloughing of public school teachers and other state and county workers because of budget cuts.

Allotted the same speaking time her Democratic Party primary opponent, Ed Case, used Saturday — eight-and-a-half minutes (or so) — Hirono made the most of it, helped in no small part by dozens and dozens of supporters wearing Hirono for Senate T-shirts and carrying signs.

By contrast, Case had only wife Audrey with him before he spoke.

Hirono also repeatedly mentioned Lingle, the Republican candidate that either she or Case will face depending on who wins the primary.

She condemned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for spending $500,000 on Lingle’s behalf and said Karl Rove, the former advisor to President George W. Bush, would be sending super-PAC money Hawaii’s way on behalf of Lingle.

“Boooo!” went the crowd of Democrat delegates when Lingle’s name — or Sarah Palin’s — was mentioned, “Hissss!” when Rove’s name was brought up.

“They only need four votes to talk over Senate, and their No. 1 draft pick, Linda Lingle, to continue an agenda of attacking women, kupuna, working people, unions. That os not going to happen on my watch — on our watch!”

And, Hirono repeated familiar themes from her campaign, namely, how Hirono’s mother fled an abusive husband in Japan for Hawaii with an 8-year-old Mazie and her two siblings in tow. It’s a story she has told for years, and her campaign believes it still has punch.

Hirono explained that she knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck and not have health insurance, because that’s what her mother, now 87, went through.

“My mother showed me how to be strong and to never give up,” she said.

Message to Democrats: I will be the stronger candidate against Lingle in the fall.

No Direct Mention of Case

Like Case on Saturday, Hirono did not mention her primary opponent by name.

She also spoke briefly with reporters afterward, giving rather terse responses to inquiries about debate appearances with Case.

Her point: She has already agreed to five and that’s all she has to say on the matter. None are a statewide televised debate between just Case and Hirono, as is customary for big races.

Too bad, because clear differences would likely emerge between the two candidates. Hirono hinted strongly at two — the Iraq war and the USA Patriot Act — in her remarks to delegates.

She did so in a clever fashion: by noting U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka‘s early and consistent opposition to both.

Just an hour before Hirono spoke, Democrats held an emotional farewell for Akaka, 87, whose retirement opens the seat that Hirono seeks.

“He was very courageous — he voted no,” Hirono said of Akaka on both issues.

Unspoken: Case, who unsuccessfully challenged Akaka in 2006, has held opposite positions on the controversial issues.

She also had this to say about Akaka (and maybe Case, too): “Let us not mistake humility for weakness. Senator Akaka shows us you don’t have to be loud to be strong.”

Hirono made clear her campaign strategy, and it is no surprise: to base it on Hawaii values (read: Democrat values, e.g., supporting families, keiki and kupuna).

The ballroom of Democrats at the Sheraton was very much on her side

“I ask for your support,” Hirono said near the end of her rally speech.

A female delegate shouted back, “You got it!”

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