Rep. Bill Owens praised Republican Mitt Romney's stances on China, while adding that his business background is ripe for scrutiny and that he will support President Obama in the fall.
Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, announced in a news release Wednesday that he was signing on to a bill that would crack down on foreign companies — mostly Chinese — who unlawfully evade U.S. trade laws, like laws on "dumping" and tariffs.
Mr. Owens' use of the word "fair trade" is likely to raise eyebrows among the set who believe that international commerce should be as unfettered as possible. "Fair trade" advocates push for policies that protect American industries through various means — tariffs, quotas and the like. Free trade advocates, on the other hand, believe those policies are untenable in the modern economic world.
"I think I’m quite aligned with Governor Romney on this particular issue," Mr. Owens said.
Mr. Owens went on to say that Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who will face President Obama in the November election, has business experience, and that business experience has "validity" (more on this in a second).
As the New York Times reported, Mr. Romney's tough-on-China stance has put him at odds with others in his party's "free-trade, pro-business wing."
Mr. Owens said that voters are particularly anxious about the rise of China.
"I think we’re in a trade war with China already," Mr. Owens said. "They already started it."
And back to that "validity" comment about Mr. Romney's business record: It's particularly instructive given Mr. Owens' own race, and his own very-light embrace of his party's standard-bearer.
After saying that Mr. Romney's record has "validity," Mr. Owens seemed to backtrack a bit, or at least use the word in a way I didn't expect — his record has validity in that Democrats can validly attack him for it.
"Where is Mr. Romney focused?" Mr. Owens said. "I think he’s focused on people who are very wealthy, not focused on the middle class. He’s not focused on trying to bring jobs back to the United States. ... He’s clearly, as is my opponent, not focused on tax cuts for the middle class, he's focused on them for the very wealthy."
Democrats have assailed Matt Doheny, whose experience working on Wall Street is a political double-edged sword, as out-of-touch with the north country, and have claimed that his business experience is more attuned to creating misery than creating jobs. (Mr. Doheny, on the other hand, says that his experience turning around struggling enterprises is exactly what the country needs.) Mr. Doheny won the GOP primary last night to take on Mr. Owens in November.
And Mr. Owens went further than he ever has before in his support for Mr. Obama, saying that it's the focus on the middle class that has sealed the deal.
"As I’m looking at this now, I’m going to support the person who in my opinion is most focused on the middle and trying to create jobs, trying to help the middle class, help the majority of Americans, who's going to be focused on the United States," Mr. Owens said. "RIght now, that looks to me like it's the president."
Mr. Owens brushed aside reports that he wouldn't attend the Democratic convention in Charlotte, saying he had 240,000 prospective constituents in the new part of his district to attend to.