Matt Towery

I could tell the same old crowd had taken over when our firm released a poll showing Barack Obama seriously challenging McCain in the usually reliable GOP state of Georgia. Rather than admit that this one Southern state might be a concern because of its huge African-American vote, huge voter base of young people, and its own former GOP congressman running as the Libertarian candidate, Team McCain trotted out two Georgia U.S. senators to say that McCain had a 10-point lead in the Peach State, so not to worry.

Now that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Rather than use the potential tightness of a race to energize your base, you instead try to convince your voters that there is no reason to put up signs, donate money or try a little harder. That's the team I've known from the past: too proud and self-satisfied to bend their strategy to take advantage of reality.

The GOP had better wake up and realize that the best thing it has going in the McCain campaign is McCain himself. Try to turn him into George W. Bush, and he will lose in a landslide. Try to "choreograph" his statements and control his personality, and it will be the inside-job political assassination of Bob Dole in 1996 all over again.

John McCain doesn't have a lot of true friends in the GOP. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is one of the few. My advice to McCain: Let Graham watch your backside. Because if the "new leadership" overseeing the McCain campaign is allowed to body-snatch the real McCain and replace him with a Republican drone, it's going to guarantee even larger Democratic House and Senate majorities next year, and a crushing defeat for McCain himself, who is a much better candidate than any of them seem to recognize.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery