"He seems to believe he should be the one who should pick our next Hawaii senator," began Linda Lingle in her latest campaign spot on Thursday. "But with all due respect to the senior senator I believe that decision is up to you the people of Hawaii."
"I think a lot of people are thinking that, and I think a leader is someone who actually stands up and says what's on the minds of many people," said Lingle at a political forum Thursday afternoon.
And with that, Lingle launched into hardball defense.
"Inouye and Lingle make a great team and Hawaii deserves nothing less," said Lingle campaign manager Robert Lee in a television spot last week that started a war of words with Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Hawaii's democratic senator was angered by side-by-side pictures with Republican candidate Lingle.
Within days Inouye said, "I would have hoped that someone who's seeking a senate seat, who has served Hawaii as a governor, would have a bit more class than that."
"I thought it was very important for the people of Hawaii to know that I’m a very strong leader who are going to stand up for them," said Lingle.
Hawaii's former governor said she stands by her strong words against Inouye, and the suggestion the two would be a dream team on Capitol Hill.
She said what Inouye denies; that the two have worked well together to move policies in congress.
"What a combination she and Senator Inouye will make," continued Lee in the campaign ad.
"At best it's misleading. At worst it's insulting," added Inouye.
Lingle said she still holds Inouye in high regard, still hopes to be a team, but has no intention backing down from a serious backlash.
"When the senator went one step further and launched a personal character attack against me, I felt it was important to set the record straight," she said.
Sen. Inouye's camp had no response as of Thursday night.
Congresswoman Mazie Hirono's campaign had no comment.