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With just five days till U.S. voters elect their next president, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) continues to trail Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) in the polls. And as Nov. 4 draws near, pundits are reporting dissension and distrust in the McCain campaign's inner circle. Those insiders are said to be blaming one person: Gov. Sarah Palin (R., Alaska).

Guess what? The advisers are dead wrong. Palin was the right pick as McCain's running mate. Her bid for the vice-presidency put McCain over the top in a race many had ceded to the Democrats even before it had started. McCain might be winning today if it weren't for one problem: those same McCain advisers. Those advisers turned Palin from an incredible asset into a weight around his neck.

When Palin was named McCain's VP pick, I predicted her "surprise selection could ignite a media firestorm." Palin did create an incredible surge of interest, not only in the campaign but also in favorability for McCain. She drew both the Republican base and undecided voters to the table.

Palin got off to a tremendous start. She spoke well in a speech at the Republican National Convention in September and attracted huge crowds on the campaign trail. Her popularity easily surpassed interest in McCain. His numbers lifted in the polls mostly helped by support from working class white people who identified with Palin and her family. She seemed like a real person, not just a politician.

All of this occurred in spite of the fact that McCain barely knew Palin before he picked her as VP and the campaign had hardly vetted her. When the media vetting quickly turned up some potential problems, including her record back in Alaska, such as the so-called trooper-gate and her support for earmarks, the campaign had to make a decision on how to answer the questions on her record to ensure her popularity.

Here's where things started to unravel.

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