Delegate's "tip over" gaffe scrutinized - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Delegate's "tip over" gaffe scrutinized

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - It's the kind of moment that makes you ask yourself "Did that just happen?" Well, that kind of moment happened during a Housed Armed Services Committee budget hearing when the military buildup was brought up.  A recent comment by U.S. Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia has some wondering how knowledgeable House members are about the island of Guam.

Johnson seemed concerned the expansion of military forces locally could have a devastating effect on the territory.  "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize," he stated.

Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo says she believes Johnson was not posing a serious question, telling KUAM News, "He was saying that is jest. I don't know how it was said or when, but I know Congressman Johnson; he's been here.  I'm sure it was just a joke."

When asked if, by chance, such comments were deliberate, if such concerned her about the possible lack of awareness by her colleagues for Guam, Bordallo responded, "No, not at all.  Over 50% of the Armed Services Committee has come to Guam to visit."

Another comment, one made by Admiral Robert Willard, the head of Pacific Command, was cause for concern for Governor Felix Camacho.  When asked by Johnson whether Guam was selected for the buildup because it was the only choice, Willard responded, "This is the best place, it is the farthest U.S. territory that we own. This is part of our nation."

Said the governor in reaction, "I think it goes to show the attitude they have towards the buildup and towards the mission." While the island's chief executive believes Admiral Willard owes the people of Guam an apology, Bordallo had a different interpretation of his comments.  "I don't think that was mean to say we own it, meaning this island is part of the United States," she clarified.

Either way, Lieutenant Governor Mike Cruz says he believes the comment brings up an important issue, saying, "This is not just a base, this is our home.  As a people [we have to] make sure to be a part of the quality of life any other American citizen would want."

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