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It’s the economy, stupid.

At an event hosted by Penn Democrats Monday night, Pennsylvania Governor and Penn graduate Ed Rendell told the audience that the outcomes of next year’s midterm elections and the 2012 presidential elections will depend on the state of the country’s economy over the next few years.

He said although the recent ascension of Republicans to the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia was a result of local issues, voters will elect more Republicans into office nationwide in upcoming elections if the unemployment rate remains high.

The national unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in October, the highest since April 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rendell said the stimulus package is slowly starting to help stimulate the economy, but he criticized the bill for not focusing enough on infrastructure.

“Infrastructure has a dramatic effect on the economy,” he said.

Rendell proposed an additional approach to stimulating the economy: he said he wants to overhaul the nation’s transportation system by establishing a national high-speed rail system.

Although the project would cost nearly one trillion dollars, Rendell said, it would modernize railroads, create countless jobs and stimulate the economy.

He pointed out that high-speed trains in Japan average a speed of almost 200 miles-per-hour. Amtrak’s Acela Express, on the other hand, runs at an average speed of less than 100 miles-per-hour.

Rendell, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election next year, also spoke about his plans after his retirement from state politics.

As an avid sports fan and a member of a panel on the show “Post Game Live,” which follows Philadelphia Eagles football games, Rendell said he would like to serve as commissioner of Major League Baseball. Current Commissioner Bud Selig is slated to retire in 2012.

But if President Obama offered him a Cabinet position, Rendell said he would have to grudgingly accept.

He added that he plans to write a book that takes a humorous view of politics and entertains readers while educating them.

College junior and Penn Dems event director Mike Abboud, who is a student in the government and politics course that Rendell teaches at Penn, organized the governor’s visit.

“I’ve been trying to get Rendell to schedule a date since January,” he said, adding that yesterday was the only day he had free all semester. “It was very last moment.”

After the event, which was held in the Hall of Flags in Houston Hall, Rendell went to teach his class at 6 p.m.

“I’ve seen a couple of different people who hold public office,” said Wharton sophomore Alex Donayre, who attended the event, “and he was definitely one of the best.”

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