HONOLULU - U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye chided former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle on Friday for releasing a campaign ad that pictures the two side by side, saying that it's misleading.
Lingle, a Republican, is making a push for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, a Democrat. Central to her campaign is the idea that a vote for her is a vote for Hawaii, not necessarily the national GOP.
Her Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, meanwhile, has tried to paint Lingle as little more than a cog in Republican plans to overtake the chamber.
Lingle's ad cast her as a moderate, with campaign manager Bob Lee saying in the spot posted online that even if the GOP wins a majority in the Senate, Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and third in line for the presidency, would still be a powerful figure as the top Democrat on that panel.
"Anything else said is disrespectful to the senior senator," Lee said.
Inouye, however, said the commercial distorts the facts and suggests a relationship between them that does not exist.
The ad underscores Lingle's campaign message that she's not a mouthpiece for the national party. She has said the race represents a generational decision because Senate seats in Hawaii don't open up often. The winner between Hirono and Lingle will be the state's fifth senator.
Hirono, for her part, has made Lingle's place in the national Republican Party's plans a key issue in her campaign. Hirono says she's the best choice because she'll support President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii.
Obama is running for re-election in November against Republican Mitt Romney.
Lingle says the decision goes beyond Obama or Romney, and the best situation for Hawaii is having a senator in each party.