U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono Wages War with Trump Even As She Battles Cancer

Richard Borreca
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

It is 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon in Honolulu and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono is dashing into her third-floor office in the Prince Kühiö Federal Building as a sound bite of President Donald Trump plays on her office television set.

“Oh my God, now what is he saying,” Hirono says, glaring at the CNN broadcast.

“The man does not read; his attention span is this big,” she says, gesturing. “He can’t maintain a coherent position from one moment to the next.”

Ever since Donald Trump debuted on the national political scene, many Hawai‘i voters have noticed a major change in the Democrat, who first ran for public office in 1980 and rose to become lieutenant governor. She has emerged as “Speak her own mind Mazie.” Perhaps the combination of a stage 4 cancer diagnosis last year and working in a national capital controlled by conservative Republicans has brought Hawai‘i’s liberal U.S. senator to full voice.

Hirono admits that she is making national TV news as Trump continues to raise the level of partisan, anti-immigration rhetoric.

“I get asked a lot to weigh in. I’m glad to do it, because this administration gives me so many things to oppose and be critical of,” Hirono said in an interview.

“It is important to recognize in a divisive time such as this, with such a divisive president, that someone who looks like me is an important voice,” says Hirono.

At 70, Hirono is running for re-election to the Senate. She is also undergoing immunotherapy to treat cancer that showed up on her thyroid after she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had a kidney removed. The Hawaii Comprehensive Cancer Coalition Summit recently presented her with a “Courage Award.”

“I am in treatment. I am plugging away, not fading away,” Hirono emphasizes, adding that she “fully intends to do what is needed to get re-elected.”

To that end, Hirono has already raised $3,173,091 for her upcoming campaign. As of now, she has no opposition.

Since first running for Congress in 2006, Hirono has consistently framed her campaign as the Hawai‘i version of America’s story: born in Japan to a mother who was an American citizen, but forced to immigrate to America at age 5 with her brother and her mother, who was fleeing an abusive husband. She could not speak English and was a total stranger to American culture. So, unyielding support for fair immigration laws is a cornerstone of her beliefs and political campaign.

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Richard Borreca is a Honolulu journalist. He has worked for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, KHVH News Radio, KHON-TV, Honolulu Magazine and The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, for whom he now writes a Sunday column.


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