Bill Owens, the Democrats' candidate for the 23rd Congressional District, tried to meet potential voters Friday who were dining out at a couple of local Watertown breakfast spots.
Just one problem: The crowds were a little thin. Mr. Owens' team nixed the first stop - Watertown's famous Crystal Restaurant - because it was empty at 7:45 a.m. A stop at Rick's Bakery nearby only yielded seven patrons. The final stop at Shorty's Restaurant was the most fruitful. I'd say there were about 15 - including the waitresses - while Mr. Owens dined.
I took some video of the candidate pressing the flesh and then eeked in a couple of unrelated questions.
The first: Why did Mr. Owens, who has routinely avoided talking about specific health care bills and avoided giving his opinion about the public option, suddenly change course last night during the debate?
"I'm generally in support of this bill," he said last night. "I think it's moving things in the right direction. There are some areas that I'd like to see modified - one in particular would be to create a higher ceiling on the exemptions. Right now, about 85 percent of businesses are exempt under this statute. I'd like to see that pushed higher."
On the public option, the candidate said at the debate: "I believe that moving towards this legislation is very appropriate. I think the form of the public option included in this bill is reasonable."
I think it's because the candidate is trying to signal to the Democratic base to come out and vote for him because he sounds ready to back to the health care reform bill if elected. Not surprisingly, that's not the answer I got.
The second question: Why did Mr. Owens' campaign, which has kept this spots positive, suddenly decide to go negative with his most recent spot? He can sell it any way he wants, but it's not a contrast piece if you hammer your opponent - in this case, Doug Hoffman, for 25 seconds and say little, if not nothing, about yourself. (The ad is not up on the Internet, so I have to rely on my memory.)