Gov. Neil Abercrombie has withdrawn from three of four AARP-sponsored debates with state Sen. David Ige - including one on Maui set for Friday at the Maui Beach Hotel - the AARP announced Monday.
The governor's campaign spokesperson cited "scheduling difficulties," the AARP news release said.
"AARP Hawaii is deeply disappointed that the governor will not be taking part in three of the four debates that his campaign had agreed to," said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. "We hope the governor reconsiders his decision and honors his debate commitments. This is a critical election and the issues require thoughtful deliberation. Campaign ads are a poor substitute for giving voters every opportunity to make informed decisions based on side-by-side comparisons."
It does not appear that the AARP will allow Ige to appear by himself, said Bruce Bottorff, AARP spokesman, on Monday.
"Citizens are losing important opportunities to compare the top two candidates for the state's highest office in face-to-face meetings," said Ige in a news release. "Canceling so late after arrangements have already been made by AARP and their members is disrespectful to our kupuna."
Despite Abercrombie's withdrawal, the voter information segment of Friday's public forum in Kahului will proceed as planned. The event includes a discussion of the future of Social Security and an update on AARP's state legislative priorities.
The event from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. is open to the public but registration is required.
Registration may be done online at aarp.cvent.com/socsecmaui or by phone, toll free, at (877) 926-8300.