In Tuesday’s U.S. Senate debate, Democratic Congresswoman Mazie Hirono and the Republican candidate Linda Lingle once again butted heads over who is more bipartisan.

“I know that my Republican opponent continues to tout that she is bipartisan,” Hirono said. “But how bipartisan is it for her to go out on the campaign trail to support a McCain-Palin ticket? And she is currently a co-chair in the Romney campaign.”

Hirono has repeatedly said in her TV commercials that Lingle co-chairs GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign. But Lingle says that’s false.

“[Hirono] makes mention from time to time that I’m a co-chair of Gov. Romney’s campaign when she knows that that’s not true,” Lingle said later in the debate.

Who is right?

Hirono dwells on Lingle’s ties to Romney in order to prompt voters to associate Lingle with national Republicans. The assertion also likely resonates with the 62 percent of Hawaii voters who prefer President Barack Obama.

But Lingle is not a leader in Romney’s campaign. She is an honorary co-chair of the Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition, a subset of the Romney campaign that was formed to reach out to Jewish voters.

To the casual listener, being called a co-chair of a campaign carries connotation that the person is calling shots on campaign strategy or organizing his ground efforts. For the Romney campaign, that person is Bob White, the chairman of Romney for President.

In contrast, Lingle’s title means that her name is listed on Romney’s website along with seven other honorary co-chairs who support his campaign.

Lenny Klompus, Lingle’s campaign spokesman, said that other than agreeing to have her name listed as a Jewish-American Romney supporter, Lingle hasn’t been involved in the campaign.

“She’s never attended a meeting, never been on a telephone call [for the coalition],” he said.

BOTTOM LINE: By calling Lingle a “co-chair in the Romney campaign,” Hirono misleads voters by suggesting that Lingle is a leader in the Republican presidential bid. Lingle is one of eight honorary co-chairs of the Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition, but it’s a stretch to say that she’s an important figure in his campaign. Because Hirono’s statement contains an element of truth but is also misleading, Civil Beat finds it to be MOSTLY FALSE.

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