The Republican Party's counter-assault on the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. can be summed up in a Reagan-esque 11 words: "Are we better off now than we were four years ago?"
The GOP wants to make Nov. 6 a referendum on that question. It's a question that I posed to Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who is facing Republican Matt Doheny.
Here's what Mr. Owens said:
"My answer to that would be, yes. because we were on the precipice of either a great recession or close to the financial collapse of the country," said Mr. Owens, who was first elected in a special election a little bit less than three years ago (the same answer holds true when you ask him whether we're better off now than we were three years ago).
Things could be better, Mr. Owens acknowledged, and things could have been done differently. For example, he said he would have preferred to have seen stimulus dollars spent on infrastructure, as opposed to aid for states. He wasn't in office yet for the stimulus, but said later that he would have supported it.
Job growth has been sluggish, but it's better than the massive job losses that were happening in the beginning of 2010, Mr. Owens said.
"Sometimes when you have heavy weight sliding down a ramp, you first have to stop it, and then pull it back up," he said. "We're in the process of pulling that heavy weight back up. As much as Republicans hate to hear this, (President George W.) Bush was responsible for that. He put the weight in motion, that weight sliding down the ramp."
He also acknowledged that he is, indeed, supporting President Obama in his Nov. 6 re-election campaign.
In the interest of throwing every possible gotcha question I could at him, I also asked Mr. Owens what letter grade he'd give himself.
"That's up to the voters to do," he said. "That's not up to me."
Commence news release deluge in 3.... 2....
Here's part of a statement from Doheny spokesman Jude Seymour:
“How does he explain that more than 300,000 people are out of work since the president took over, and 5,000 more unemployed in the 23rd district since our current congressman took over? How does he rectify his belief with the fact that gas prices are hitting record highs and health care premiums are up 9 percent while median household incomes have dropped 5 percent?
“Simple. He blames George Bush. Seriously. Bill Owens wants voters to ignore his three years in Washington and pretend like they were someone else’s problem."