House Leader Says Romney-Ryan Needs Olympic-style Peak

Photograph by Jeff Kowalsky/EPA

Mitt Romney supporters before a rally at Long Family Orchard, Farm & Cider Mill in Commerce, Michigan, on August 24, 2012.

Regardless of today’s polls, money or numbers, in Kevin McCarthy’s eyes, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan need to have the same goals held by the world’s greatest athletes in London last month.

“It’s just like the Olympics,” McCarthy, the third-ranked Republican in the House, said at a sitdown a few blocks away from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “When do you peak?”

As Ryan and Romney prepare to take the stage this week for their convention speeches, Mccarthy, who was one of the architects of the sweeping Republican victory in 2010, said his side is on the upswing in the battle with President Barack Obama that will likely remain close until November.

“You don’t want the numbers Obama has going into an election,” McCarthy said. “He is downward trending, he’s not breaking 50 and he’s the incumbent.”

While McCarthy’s read on the direction of the momentum in the race may not track with that of the Obama campaign’s, both likely agree on the importance of the upcoming debates between the candidates. With a large number of voters firmly set in one camp or the other, the debates may be where the race for independent voters is ultimately won.

“This is a tough race, so this race isn’t one that’s going to have big swings,” McCarthy said. “It’s those that are undecided, they’re waiting for the policy and the debates to make the decision, so you’re not going to see a lot of movement until then.”

And it won’t be just the presidential debates that draw the attention of the electorate, McCarthy said. The face off between Ryan, Romney’s choice for vice president and McCarthy’s House colleague, and Vice President Joe Biden is sure to draw plenty of viewers.

“I think that debate with Biden is going to be highly watched,” he said.

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