PLATTSBURGH—The first thing Roger Metzger asked me was whether I liked almonds. The second was whether I was working for Doug Hoffman.
Metzger’s café–Quiche et Crepe–is located next to Hoffman’s field office in this lakeside city, and he’s seen an uptick in business from the volunteers. A needed one, he says, since the closure of two suppliers to subway car manufacturer Bombardier closed, cutting into his lunch crowd.
I asked Metzger who he was voting for.
“Haven’t decided yet. I hear conflicting things from different people,” he said while mixing some crepe batter as country music droned lightly from a boom box. The follow-up to his first question was an almond croissant that his wife Evelyn makes, which he served with an admonition that it was too hot to eat with my fingers. (I’m no food critic, but if you are in Plattsburgh, you should come here and eat this croissant.)
Metzger was born in Iowa, but spent a good deal of time living in France as a traveling salesman. He thinks very positively of socialized medicine, and talked with me for 10 minutes about it.
“I hear conflicting things from different people. That guy Owens, my friend said, is for socialized medicine. Hoffman doesn’t want any government in medicine,” he said. He does not have health insurance; a basic plan without dental or eye coverage would cost $600 a month, Metzger said, almost as much as his $700 mortgage.
“If I get sick or something, I’ve gotta close the joint. Where’s our money come from the days we’re closed?” He said. He’s met people at church who have gotten sick and miss work, and “it’s all a downhill effect.”
“The question is which is harder: the person who makes a million and pays 12 percent to pay for health insurance, or the person who makes 30,000 and pays 12 percent? It’s the guy who pays $30,000, he’s still going to want to make more money,” Metzger said.
He agrees with Hoffman’s opposition to abortion. Metzger is very religious and cites the Bible as an absolute moral guide; he attends services on Sunday and Thursday at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church on Oak Street and hosts Bible study at the café on Wednesday evenings. He is staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage, which is not in the Bible. (And which no candidate in the race now favors.)
“They all say America’s the biggest country, the best, you’re free to do what you want to do. No you’re not,” he said. “You’re not free to do what you want to do. First of all, you can’t pray in school. You can’t pray in public. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. They say that if the Founding Fathers were still alive, they would turn over in their grave. It’s ridiculous. You can’t say a prayer in school.”
Eventually, Metzger said he’s leaning toward Hoffman (though he did take umbrage with the fact that Hoffman didn’t stop in when he opened the headquarters. “A couple of people asked, if he’s for small business, why didn’t he come in here and say hello?”)
His rationale might be bottom-line based.
“I just made a couple extra meals because I might have some people come in from next door,” he told me. “I’d just love to have the money that they put out in signs, and I wouldn’t have to work for a month. Or three months.”