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Power Play: Economy not as bad as candidates say

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (L) is given a tour of Globe Manufacturing by President and CEO Don Welch before holding a town hall event with employees February 3, 2016 in Pittsfield, New Hampshire.
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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (L) is given a tour of Globe Manufacturing by President and CEO Don Welch before holding a town hall event with employees February 3, 2016 in Pittsfield, New Hampshire.

With a Republican debate scheduled for Thursday night, Americans will likely get more doom and gloom about economy.

But Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank tells CNBC's "Power Lunch" that may be an exaggeration.

"Even though the presidential debates have painted an image of a U.S. economy that is dying on the vine, the actual state of affairs is not half bad. Although retail sales edged just 0.2 percent higher in January, according to the Commerce Department, some of the underlying U.S. consumption trends are promising," Ablin said.

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He also believes the drop in gasoline prices is actually giving the economy a boost.

"Now that gasoline has gotten so cheap and the strong dollar has kept inflation at bay, restaurant revenues are more than 6 percent higher than they were last year. Perhaps no surprise to our smartphone-fetish, internet sales enjoyed an 8.7 percent surge," Ablin said.

Two stocks Jack likes in this environment are Emerson Electric and Whirlpool. "They're all high-quality companies that have generous dividend yields," Ablin said.

Emerson is higher during trading, while Whirlpool is lower.