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Paterson supports Owens, then clarifies statement

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Gov. David Paterson visited Cape Vincent today to announce breaks on energy bills for commercial customers and dairy farmers in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Since he was here, the media decided to ask him who he liked for the 23rd Congressional District seat. Here's what the governor said:

“The Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, is someone who has been a businessman, who has represented this country overseas, actually helped to bring troops to the base because of his sense of the community. So obviously, he'd be my choice for the seat. But I think he may endemic or reflective of the view that Sen. Aubertine has - and that I have - of an evolved Democratic party where there's still sort of a desire for equity in the social area, but also discipline in the financial area, which is what I think may be surprising people.”

In my opinion, there's two ways you can interpret the "actually helped to bring troops" part of this quote:

  • The governor has been misinformed or lied to about Mr. Owens' record.
  • The governor misspoke when he said "troops" instead of "businesses," which would make this more in line with Mr. Owens' assertion that he helped the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp. lure businesses to the former military base.

Dede Scozzafava's tracker - the one who got confrontational with Doug Hoffman at the Conservative candidate's Watertown headquarters opening - was there taping the whole affair. I think I know how Ms. Scozzafava's supporters and surrogates are going to play this.

I think he just misspoke. I've asked the governor's press people to review the quote and provide clarification if necessary. We'll see if there's anything more to say.

UPDATE: The governor said he misspoke.

“Apparently I said that Owens brought soliders in," he told me later. "I wasn't confusing that Owens had anything to do with the expansion. I actually worked on that. I actually went to see the secretary when I was lieutenant governor about the expansion of Fort Drum. That's when we brought soldiers in. No, he didn't have anything to do with that. I meant jobs. I just misspoke. I said he brought soldiers in, I meant jobs.”

Q: “And you meant jobs in Plattsburgh?”
A: “Yeah. I just - I just got that confused when I said it. If Assemblywoman Scozzafava wants to get that technical about it, I'll be sure to tune into her next press conference. I'm sure we can pick it apart.”

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