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First debate between Love and Owens turns confrontational

Published: Wednesday, May 21 2014 7:40 p.m. MDT

Owens said after the debate the facts "absolutely" portray Love as an extremist and he would be fair in contrasting her views with his. Pressed to label his political view, he said, "it's a moderate, reasonable approach I would bring."

Dave Hansen, Love's campaign manager, said Owens' tone was "inappropriate" and that he must be getting advice "to get out there and attack. That's not what the public wants."

Owens' communications consultant, advertising executive Tom Love, said Owens was drawing distinctions between himself and his opponent.

"Mission accomplished. He did exactly what he needed to do, which is introduce himself as a very legitimate candidate, and a credible candidate," Tom Love said. "He didn't go after her. He went after her record. So that's totally fair."

Former state lawmaker and Deseret News columnist Frank Pignanelli, the debate moderator, suggested Democrats such as Owens need to be cautious in how they attempt to distinguish themselves against a better-known Republican opponent.

"What Democrats have to remember is if you're going to win outside of Salt Lake City, you have to attract Republican votes. And you have to attract independent votes," he said.

Pignanelli said the debate went well, even though he had admonished the candidates to talk about their plans if elected rather than each other, and avoid any "cheap shots."

Owens, Pignanelli said, "is trying to say, 'I'm a different type of person.'"

Email: lisa@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsPolitics

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