TAMPA, Fla.--Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who has spent much of this year as a leading surrogate for Mitt Romney on Capitol Hill and across the country, set a high bar for Romney to clear when he emerges from his acceptance speech on Thursday night.
"The next three nights are critical," Chaffetz said on the Yahoo! News/ABC News live stream show on the first day of the Republican National Convention when asked why Romney is not further ahead in the polls given the economic pessimism in the country.
"Now that school's back in session, the NFL is kicking off, college football is in the air, they are going to start focusing on this. You're going to see debates. You see the convention. The next three nights are critical because it's prime time, baby. No more excuses. Game on," he said.
In a break with conventional wisdom, Chaffetz also predicted that the election will not be close when the results are tallied on Nov. 6.
"I happen to think at the end of the day, you're not trying to win at Labor Day. You're trying to win on Election Day. I don't think it is going to be very close," he said.
Chaffetz also said he thinks President Barack Obama has "pretty much reached his ceiling" and has proven unable to break through 46 or 47 percent support in most polls. But, apparently acknowledging that opposition to Obama will only take Romney so far, Chaffetz made clear the pressure is on his candidate to perform at a high level this week.
"He's got to prove himself and have the country fall in love with him. This is his opportunity to do it."