Politics

Hawaii congressional candidate Djou warns against ‘the nutcase in Pyongyang’

Hawaii congressional candidate Charles K. Djou, who aims to become his state’s second Republican ever to serve in the House, says that despite all the tough talk on Iran, the real threat to the country comes from “the nutcase in Pyongyang.”

“I’m far more concerned about a nuclear bomb landing in Honolulu [from North Korea],” a fired-up Djou said Monday night, arguing the country’s leader, Kim Jong-il, has 20 bombs capable of striking Hawaii.

While admitting an attack by Tehran “would be bad,” he said it would likely target Israel and not the United States, and thus Kim Jong-il is a greater threat to America than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Djou said all foreign aid to North Korea should be halted, and the same type of pressure put on Iran by the United States should be placed on Kim.

Djou, who has been described in the media as “the next Scott Brown,” is running in May’s special election for a seat long-held by Democrats but now within reach for Republicans following the resignation of Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who gave up the seat to run for governor.

Like Brown, Djou bills himself as opposing Obama’s health-care bill, but is more moderate than other Republicans on social issues. He supports repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and says Roe v. Wade shouldn’t be overturned.

Asked about the comparisons with newly installed Massachusetts senator, Djou pointed out other superficial similarities: Both are lawyers, both have two daughters and both have military backgrounds. But there’s one thing the Hawaiian candidate said he doesn’t have in common with Brown, who in his youth infamously posed for Cosmopolitan magazine: “no nude photos of me anywhere.”

During a meeting with several reporters at a Washington steak house, he said “nothing can make me more proud” than for a Republican to represent Obama’s home district — and that it could have broader political reverberations outside Hawaii.

“It really makes a statement that no Democratic seat in the country is safe,” he said.

He is the only Republican contender among the two other candidates: State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former Hawaii Rep. Ed Case, both Democrats. “They dislike me,” he said of his opponents. “But they really hate each other.”

Neither could be reached for comment.

Djou, a Honolulu city council and former state House representative, was in Washington this week to raise money and meet with national Republicans, though he was quick to say he does “not covet, and I do not seek national support.” Though he said he’s happy to get whatever help he can get, most of the money he has raised — 94 percent of it — has come from inside Hawaii.

Gautham Nagesh contributed to this report.