A forum hosted by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce Thursday grew contentious as Democratic U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono squared off against her Republican rival for U.S. Senate, former two-term Gov. Linda Lingle.
The candidates disagreed on how to tackle the ballooning national debt, which just this week surpassed $16 trillion.
Hirono said she would begin reeling in the country's red tape by ending tax breaks for oil companies as well as the top two percent of wage earners.
"So one of the first places that I would cut is all those tax breaks, said Hirono, "which I know my opponent continues to support."
Lingle shot back that tax credits to oil companies amount to only 15 percent of all energy credits, and even if Congress taxed those who earn $1 million or more per year at a 100 percent rate, it would fail to make any real impact on the debt.
"You just took away all their money," said Lingle, "It would total $240 billion; that would pay 18 percent of the (country's) deficit for one year."
But, perhaps the most contentious moment in the hour and a half long forum, was when Hirono insisted Lingle was a co-chairwoman of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan campaign for president.
"It's really that my opponent has the talking points from the Republican Party, and she does chair the presidential team," stated Hirono, which caused Lingle to ask moderator Dan Boylan for an opportunity to rebut.
"I am a co-chair of Jewish Americans for Gov. Romney and I'm very proud of that," said Lingle, "but for her to keep repeating something that's not true, I think goes to her character and she should stop it."
Both candidates also foreshadowed their lines of attack in the months leading up to November's general election.