State Senator David Ige today said he was disappointed that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has backed out of previously committed appearances at three out of four debates sponsored by AARP Hawaii.

The forums were to be on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.

“Citizens are losing important opportunities to compare the top two candidates for the state’s highest office in face-to-face meetings,” he said in a press release. “Canceling so late after arrangements have already been made by AARP and their members is disrespectful to our kupuna.”

Ige said he has agreed to every invitation to debate or meet the governor this election period.

Sen. David Ige budget

State Sen. David Ige speaks in a budget hearing during the 2014 legislative session.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Other forums and debates that Abercrombie declined participation in, according to Ige’s campaign, include ones with Kokua Council, a televised debate with KITV and Civil Beat and ThinkTech Hawaii’s Kakaako candidate forum held at the State Capitol.

Ige today also expressed his disappointment over the AARP cancelations in a campaign fundraiser request to supporters.

Asked for a response, Abercrombie campaign manager Bill Kaneko said via email, “The two candidates will have more appearances together than any other opponents in a major race during this election cycle. It’s disappointing that our opponent seeks to make this an issue since he hurt kupuna by not advancing the Governor’s tax breaks for seniors this past session session.”

Kaneko added, “At the end of the day, Gov. Abercrombie has fought hard to help Hawaii’s seniors, including increasing funding for Kupuna Care and the Executive Office on Aging, and proposing generous tax relief for needy seniors.”

The remaining AARP Hawaii debate will be held in Kona during the morning of July 29. A join appearance before the Kona Chamber of Commerce is set for that same evening.

Ige and Abercrombie are also expected to meet in a forum in Waimea on the Big Island July 23.

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