Premature backing

We like Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. It was disappointing, therefore, to learn Monday that President Barack Obama has already endorsed her primary election opponent, Sen. Brian Schatz. We believe that is premature.

Hanabusa has not received our endorsement – yet. Right now, we think she is the candidate who most strongly represents what Sen. Daniel Inouye meant to Hawaii. To briefly sum up those values:

* Commitment to a progressive but fiscally responsible social agenda.

* Willingness to fight in Washington for the “pivot to the Pacific” that was supposed to be the cornerstone of 21st-century U.S. defense.

* Along with the “pivot,” realizing that the U.S. cannot keep cutting defense spending, and the Quadrennial Defense Review needs to address real world threats and how the country will confront them.

* Fidelity to, and belief in, Inouye’s position that strong educational initiatives are key to diversifying and building Hawaii’s economy.

* Humility, but confidence, in personal demeanor.

We realize that two of the five values we cite are defense-related. That’s because we think that is what most differentiates Hanabusa from Schatz. Like Inouye, Hanabusa has a commitment to the military, not just because it benefits Hawaii, but because it is key to national security.

And, she never shies away from talking about defense. She sees the world as it is, not the way we all wish it was. She voted against the bipartisan budget deal because of the cuts it made to defense.

It is easier to talk about “protecting Social Security” and being a senator for “40 years.” Truth be told, Hanabusa will work just as hard for Social Security and is much too humble to presume that Hawaii residents would honor her with an Inouye-like term in office.

We hope all Hawaii residents will keep an open mind in the U.S. Senate race through the debates leading up to next summer’s primary. We believe you will be impressed with the knowledge, sincerity and personality of Colleen Hanabusa.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.