There is only one Rep. Mazie Hirono, but she’s living a divided life.

Like any other incumbent running for office, Hirono constantly has to navigate between congresswoman and candidate.

It’s not always an easy line to walk, although Hirono compared it to walking and chewing gum at the same time in an interview with Civil Beat earlier this year.

When it comes to messaging, Team Hirono — congressionally and on the campaign trail — was a well-oiled machine on Wednesday. After House Republicans voted (again) to repeal the Obama administration’s landmark health care law, Hirono issued not one, not two but three responses: One for constituents, one for voters and one for supporters.

Hirono’s campaign hasn’t sent out three versions of every message, so why is this trio of statements different? Health care is an issue that sets her apart from the leading Republican in the race, former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, and this gives her an opportunity to demonstrate that.

The variation in Hirono’s three messages highlights differences in how she communicates to different audiences. We’re looking primarily at how Hirono responded to this House vote via email — but she also tweeted about the vote from her campaign account and posted reaction to Facebook. (The folks over at ProPublica have devoted an entire project to figuring out how campaigns are tracking and targeting different groups with different messages. Please let us know if you saw some other iteration of Hirono’s message today, and forward it to

One message at a time

First, there was the message to potential voters: A press release issued by campaign spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka at 10:49 a.m. Hawaii time. Fourteen minutes later, Hirono’s congressional staff sent out a press release. A little over an hour later, a campaign message went out to supporters.

All three messages were strongly worded and aggressive. Each message included a reference to the Republicans’ “charade,” “shibai,” or having “rammed through” repeal attempts.

The two campaign messages were, not surprisingly, more politically charged. They both challenged Lingle, the Republican Hirono is likely to face if she wins her Democratic primary.

It’s telling, too, that Hirono explicitly omitted Democratic opponent and former Rep. Ed Case. Hirono is trying to position herself as the general election match-up with Lingle. Case also isn’t glowing in his support for health care, but he has made it clear that he accepts it, saying in a June 28 press release that “repeal is not a practical reality.”

In the message issued by Hirono’s Capitol Hill, there was no mention of any political opponent or race. Instead, she focused on the importance of job creation, and repeal attempts as a distraction from that priority. Of course, that message still slammed Republicans and characterized their goals as distinct from “what families in Hawaii want.” The message isn’t without political undertones. That kind of language implies that Hawaii families shouldn’t want Lingle — a Republican who said she would work to repeal the law — either.

The message to supporters also stands out. It’s the only one written in the first-person, and it’s phrased as a direct plea from Hirono — actually, signed “Mazie” — for petition signatures against Lingle’s opposition to the current law. (Note that petition signers are required to provide email address and zip code, which helps the Hirono campaign gather information about potential supporters.) The others messages feature more formal, prepackaged quotes — the kind you’ll see printed in newspapers or online with attribution like “Hirono said in a statement.”

The point here is to get maximum saturation — the more options Hirono gives so that her message might reach the public, the more likely she is to be heard by various audiences. (Another channel her campaign is using: Sponsored Google ads.)

Have a look at the three email messages that went out. We put together a word cloud for each to better visualize the differences between the three.

Message to Voters


Today’s Vote a Critical Reminder of Protecting a Democratic Majority in the U.S. Senate

HONOLULU – Following today’s vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act in the House of Representatives, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mazie Hirono issued the following statement:

“The Republicans have tried to dismantle some or all of the President’s landmark health care legislation dozens of times. Last week, Republican Linda Lingle announced that she would continue the House’s ridiculous charade in the U.S. Senate, and vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. Her election could likely give the GOP control of that chamber, removing our strongest defense against repeal of the President’s health care plan — a Democratic Senate. Linda Lingle would rather follow her Republican leadership than do what’s right for Hawaii’s people. And that is unacceptable.”

Message to Constituents

Congresswoman Hirono Urges House Majority To Get Serious About Creating Jobs

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (HI-2) today issued the following statement on the House’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

“Today, Republicans in Congress mounted yet another attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act. They’ve told us time and time again that it’s OK to deny insurance to children with pre-existing conditions. That it’s OK to make women pay more for insurance. And, that it’s OK to make seniors pay the prescription donut hole from their own pocket. With these votes they’ve said no again and again to making health care affordable.

“But here’s what else these votes say: Republicans would rather take one shibai vote after another instead of really passing bills that create jobs.

“That’s not what families in Hawaii want. Instead, they want Congress to come together and get serious about putting our country back to work.”

Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, people in Hawaii have benefited from a variety of health care improvements, including:

  • Over 21,000 people on Medicare in Hawaii have already saved over $14.5 million on prescription drugs.

  • Over 117,000 people with Medicare in Hawaii received free preventive services including mammograms, colonoscopies, or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor.

  • 6,000 young adults under 26 in Hawaii have obtained insurance by staying on their parents’ plans through age 26.

Message to Supporters

I just left the House chamber, where the Republican majority has rammed through their bill to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Today’s vote was the latest in a series of seemingly never-ending attempts by Republicans to dismantle some or all of President Obama’s landmark health care reform legislation — and my latest vote against these attempts.

Last week, Republican Linda Lingle announced if she were in the U.S. Senate she would vote to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And if elected, she would be one of only four seats that Republicans need to gain control of that chamber, removing our strongest defense against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act — a Democratic Senate.

We have to make sure Lingle knows that her position is unacceptable.

Click here to sign my petition to tell Lingle and her national GOP allies that Hawaii needs a senator who will protect the historic progress we’ve made — not one who would actively work to take us back to a broken status quo.

By quietly releasing this announcement on the Fourth of July, we think that Lingle was hoping nobody would notice that she pledges allegiance to Washington Republicans instead of the millions of Americans who would benefit from the historic reforms the Affordable Care Act puts in place.

I want to make sure she doesn’t get away with it.

In the last week, 850 grassroots activists have signed my petition to Linda Lingle — but we need to get even more if we’re going to have an impact. Can you help us reach 1,000 signatures by the end of the day?

Click here to add your name to my petition, telling Lingle she’s wrong to oppose Obamacare.



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