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Rep. Owens declines to endorse Obama in 2012


Yes, it's early.
But it's also telling.
Rep. Bill Owens, a Plattsburgh Democrat, declined to immediately endorse President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012, saying he'll have to "wait and see."
"My view of this is that the election is going to come down to the economy and who has the better jobs plan," Mr. Owens said. "That's ultimately what people are concerned about. I'm going to wait and see what everybody comes forward with."
That Mr. Owens is holding Mr. Obama at arm's length comes as very little surprise. The president's approval rating is hovering at about 40 percent, his administration's nadir. And I get just-about-daily news releases from the NRCC, the campaign arm for House Republicans, trying to tie the two men together (today's headline: "Obama & Owens' Failed Policies Cast a Dark Cloud Over the Economy").
Despite Mr. Owens' reluctance to endorse the president, though, it's probably in the offing anyway. Here's why: Mr. Owens said that a good jobs plan would include big spending on infrastructure projects.
That's the jobs plan that Mr. Obama is likely to unveil — and that conservatives are likely to revile.
Mr. Owens' major criticism of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy has to do with a perceived lack of focus on jobs.
"The hand that the president was dealt when he came in was very difficult," Mr. Owens said. "I don't think he handled it perfectly, but I don't expect anyone would."
I asked him whether he thought Mr. Obama would win re-election.
"You know, so much can happen in the next 14 months," Mr. Owens said. "I think it's very difficult to tell. I think he's done a good job under very, very difficult circumstances. I think that, again, what I would have changed in the emphasis on the working activity inside the administration."
Mr. Owens declined to wade into enemy territory — that is, discuss the Republican candidates for president.
"I haven't paid very much attention to the activities of the Republican groups," he said. "We'll focus on that once there is a candidate."

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