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Why is Hawaii obsessed with Spam? Rep. Colleen Hanabusa explains. (VIDEO)

Welcome back to Five Questions!

Today, meet Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), candidate for U.S. Senate. Hanabusa is challenging Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in the most intriguing Democratic primary of the cycle. Sen. Daniel Inouye's dying wish was that Hanabusa be appointed to succeed him. Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) instead appointed Schatz.

We sat down Thursday with Hanabusa to talk about Spam, frequent flyer miles and why the Democratic Party is so divided in Hawaii. Here's the Five Questions segment in video form, along with a transcript of our discussion, edited for brevity.

Hawaii congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa explains her home state's obsession with SPAM in Hawaiian cuisine. Also: Unheard stories about the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

1. How many frequent flyer miles did you log last year?

I know I make about 100,000 miles by June. So I would assume that I must log at the minimum about 150,000 miles. And I will share with you that I just got my notice -- not just from my time in Congress, but from my time before, too -- I'm a million mile flyer now with United Airlines.

2. Explain the obsession with Spam in Hawaii.

It's such comfort food for us. Even our McDonalds, for example. You go to buy breakfast at McDonalds and everybody else has hot cakes and maybe scrambled eggs. We have scrambled eggs, Spam, rice and Portuguese sausage. That's the big McDonalds meal.

3. Why is the Democratic Party so divided in Hawaii?

I think people's perception that we're divided is because they don't see a control mechanism in place. We don't have a party chair or titular head who says, 'You may run for this office; you wait your turn,' or anything like that. I think that's the reason why people feel that we're divided. I don't feel we're divided because we've always been like that. We've always had factions from statehood time.

4. If you lose to Schatz in the primary will you campaign for him in the general election?

As a Democrat, I have always done that. And I see no reason why I wouldn't continue to do that. I guess a lot of it is going to depend on what the election is like in terms of how nasty it may or may not get.

5. Tell us something about late-Sen. Inouye that we don't know. 

The best sense I had about senator was when I was running in 2010 and his wife Irene took us to a friend's home. And senator and I both said, 'Ah, this place gotta be in the movies.' So it gives you a sense of no matter how he was so revered, he was just down to earth, just like me.



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Holly Yeager · March 7, 2014

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