Unsolicited Advice for John McCain

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Bill Pugliano / Getty

Senator John McCain speaks at a town-hall meeting with General Motors employees at the GM Design Center in Warren, Mich., in July

With just over a week to go until Election Day, polls are not looking great for Republican presidential nominee John McCain. So TIME asked four political pros what they would tell McCain to do in the last week in order to have a real chance at winning.

Whit Ayres, Republican pollster/consultant; president of Ayres, McHenry & Associates, Inc.

"Continue to use Joe the Plumber to talk about complex economic issues in a way that non-economists can understand. People are predisposed to believe that a liberal Democrat like Barack Obama will raise their taxes regardless of what he says. So continuing to drive the economic message is Senator McCain's best shot."

Paul Wilson, chairman/CEO, Wilson Grand Communications

"John McCain should immediately start having national-press-corps press conferences with a restriction on any procedural or horse-race questions. [It] should all be issue-oriented; he should invite the toughest people ... and let them have at him.

"Neither candidate has submitted themselves to tough questioning with follow-up by the national press corps, so we don't really know their ideas or how good they are. We don't know if McCain is really going to tax us for health care, because nobody's been able to ask him. So the press corps could jump on him, and it would jump-start his campaign."

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California; national director of communications for McCain's 2000 presidential bid

"The best thing for him to do at this point is spend every moment of every day talking about the economy. No more talking about William Ayers, no more talking about al-Qaeda, no more talking about the "tests" that the next President will face. All economy, all the time. And if he talks about it while standing on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, so much the better."

Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and strategist; president of Lake Research Partners

"In terms of things that John McCain could do to get elected President: One is fire Palin. Two would be to do much as he's doing: concentrate on one state, like Pennsylvania, and try to pull it out of the Democratic column, although I think that's very hard to do. Three would be to lay out an economic plan that sounded like a Democratic economic plan instead of a Republican economic plan, that ran to the left of Obama on economics."