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GOP leader offers advice for addressing Mitt Romney's likability problem

House majority whip Kevin McCarthy acknowledges that Mitt Romney trails President Obama when voters are asked whom they like more. He says Romney should visit lots of Staples stores to boost his appeal.

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Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy speaks at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

Michael Bonfigli/ Special to the Christian Science Monitor

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House majority whip Kevin McCarthy acknowledges that Mitt Romney trails Barack Obama in voter ratings on likability. But that factor won’t matter as much as it usually does in presidential elections, he argues, because financially pinched voters care so much more about the candidates' economic policies. 

"Likability is a big factor. But [given] the time and place of what is happening today, it is not going to be the biggest determinant because people are hurting, people want to get back to work," Representative McCarthy, a California Republican, said Wednesday at a Washington breakfast for reporters hosted by the Monitor. McCarthy's role as whip, or voter counter, makes him the third-ranking Republican in the House.  

McCarthy also offered the Romney campaign some advice on how to narrow his likability gap. "If I was Mitt Romney, what I would do ... every city [where] I would go into an event, I would first stop at Staples," McCarthy said, prompted by a question. "Why would I stop at Staples? Because there would be no Staples if it wasn’t for Mitt Romney taking a risk. Who does Staples sell to? Every small business around. I wouldn’t do a rally there, I would just go in."

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