Sen. John McCain's White House hopes are being hobbled by his two most prominent Republican allies, President Bush and vice presidential running mate Gov. Sarah Palin, according to recent polls.
In an effort to buoy up his chances with just four days to go before Election Day, McCain today criticized Bush's economic plans and vigorously defended Palin.
McCain has struggled to distance himself from Bush and his ankle-high approval ratings.
Bush's economic legacy and his policies for dealing with the current fiscal crisis have been a particular drag on McCain's poll numbers.
The Republican presidential candidate told "Good Morning America" today that for the final four days of the campaign, "We're going to fight it out on the economic grounds."
Moments later, he tore into the Bush administration for spending billions of dollars to rescue large banks but balking at aid for homeowners.
"I'm terribly disappointed with this administration that they seem to be interested in bailing out the banks and not taking care of homeowners," McCain told "GMA."
The Republican president has been coming under increasing fire from the Republican presidential campaign.
Earlier this week, McCain called for a "clean break" with the Bush administration on its energy policy, charging that Bush was too reliant on foreign oil.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll found that 50 percent of the voters believe McCain would mainly continue Bush's policies.
That's a severe handicap when more than seven in 10 Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance.
While Bush has helped raise money for the election, he has not appeared on the campaign trail for McCain.
McCain has been relying instead on the endorsement of Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, to drive home his economic message that Sen. Barack Obama's tax policies are more intent on "spreading the wealth" rather than rewarding hard work.
While still drawing large rally crowds and continuing to excite the conservative base, Gov. Sarah Palin may be weighing on the Republican ticket in its appeal to independents, often a key to victory in battleground states.
In a recent ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll, Palin's overall favorability rating -- the most basic measure of a public figure's popularity -- fell steeply.
A New York Times poll mirrors the ABC/Post poll from last week that found growing numbers of voters disapprove of McCain's choice for vice president, believing that she isn't qualified for the job.
"It's clear across a range of polls now that the Palin choice has hurt John McCain with some of the voters he was targeting, some of those undecideds, women voters," ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos told "Good Morning America."
"While Joe Biden seems to have helped make people feel better about Barack Obama, the pick of Sarah Palin seems to have made them feel worse about John McCain," Stephanopoulos said.
McCain came to his running mate's defense when asked on "GMA" about comments by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, a McCain supporter, who criticized Palin's qualifications for vice president.