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RCP's Tom Bevan On Why The Presidential Race Remains Tight

RealClearPolitics Co-Founder and Executive Editor Tom Bevan and Charlie Stone discuss the presidential race.

CHARLIE STONE: Tom, we have sixteen trillion dollars in debt, twenty-five million people unemployed, and yet this incumbent president seems to be winning in the polls. How do you explain that?

TOM BEVAN: That’s a great question, and it’s one that people have been sort of speculating about. By all the usual metrics that you would look at, you would think that the incumbent president would be behind, with unemployment where it is, gas prices where they are, GDP growth where it is. And the problem is that the economy isn’t falling off the cliff - and it isn’t roaring ahead - we’re sort of muddling through with the same story every month; a few new private sector jobs created, but certainly not enough. And on the other side, you’re got a challenger, Mitt Romney, who just really hasn’t made the sale with voters, hasn’t convinced them that he’s really going to take the country on a new and better track.

STONE: Do you think that President Obama’s theme of, “I need more time because I inherited such a mess” has resonated?

BEVAN: Sure, it has to a certain degree. The polling data suggests the idea that despite the fact he’s been in office for a full term, voters still - a certain percentage of voters still - they understand that he was left with a mess and they cut him some slack. And on top of that, even though they don’t like where the country is, they still like him personally. They think he’s a good guy, they think he’s doing his best, and that’s one of the things that the Romney campaign is fighting.

STONE: But as you know, we have a fiscal cliff ahead of us, right? Regardless of who wins, we’re going to have to talk to each other. We’re not going to get the entire Democrats to get the House and the Senate and the Presidency, or the Republicans that. So how do we get out of this mess, Tom?

BEVAN: That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question, and actually that’s one of the things President Obama has said; that if he wins, this is somehow going to break the fever that’s gripping Washington and somehow he’ll be able to work with the Republicans and to come up with solutions to these big and pressing problems. And that’s a bit of a tough sell, I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to happen. Mitt Romney is going to say, one of the arguments that he has to make is that, it’s time for new blood in Washington, because he’s one who could bring people together and solve those problems.

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