John McCain loses temper with defeatist aides as he vows to fight to the last - Telegraph In heated exchanges the Republican presidential candidate made clear that he will not tolerate the blame game that some of his aides have engaged in over the last week as Barack Obama retains a comfortable lead in national and swing state polls. Mr McCain's aides have been labelled "incontinent" for leaks last week that revealed falling morale in his inner circle and mutual recriminations about his lacklustre campaign. Mr McCain has now rolled out a defiant new stump speech in Colorado, where he roused a 5,000 strong crowd with a call to arms, making clear that if he is to go down, he will go down fighting. He took the stage on Friday night to the theme from Rocky, a tale of a scrappy underdog, and then pounded Barack Obama as a tax raiser. But he saved the toughest words for those in his own party who do not think he can win the election. "I'm not afraid of the fight, I'm ready for it," he said, echoing Hillary Clinton's closing argument during the primaries. "What America needs now is a fighter, someone who will put all his cards on the table and trusts the judgment of the American people. I have fought for you most of my life. "I know you're worried. We're at a moment of national crisis. I am an American and I choose to fight. Do not give up hope. Be strong. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up." Mr McCain, who was bursting with energy, delivered his "fighter" peroration with unusual verve, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet and shouting over the cheers of the crowd as he reached his rhetorical climax, a technique he seldom employs. Several supporters remarked afterwards that he appeared more bullish than they had seen him in a long time. A friend told The Sunday Telegraph that the message of defiance was one he had already delivered in private to his senior staff. There have even been reports that more than one of his aides last week began making inquiries about private sector jobs after the election, a clear signal that they expect to lose and a dramatic breach of etiquette in the dying days of a campaign. The friend, who often travels with Mr McCain, said the candidate lost his temper: "There were raised voices. John's whole life has been about the fight. He won't tolerate those who won't fight. He showed his irritation at some of the pessimism in typical John style." It was a measure of Mr McCain's weakness that a week before the election he was campaigning in Colorado, what was once a Republican state but now shows Mr Obama with a firm lead. On Saturday he was heading to New Mexico, another Western state that is slipping away. Mr Obama was due to resume campaigning last night in neighbouring Nevada, the third of three western states that could hold the keys to the White House. In Durango, Mr McCain spoke as the sun began to set on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which may prove to be a metaphor for his campaign. With Barack Obama visiting his sick grandmother in Hawaii, Mr McCain had the campaign spotlight all to himself, crafting two hard-hitting themes, which aides say he will carry through the rest of the campaign: that handing Mr Obama undiluted power will lead to a tax raid on the middle class and put America at risk of attacks from terrorists and rogue nations. Mr McCain told the crowd in Durango: "Just this morning Senator Obama said it again; he believes in redistributing wealth. Sen Obama says he's going to soak the rich but it's the middle class who are going to get put through the wringer. "If Senator Obama is elected the Democrats' response to the crises we face is to lower our defences and raise our taxes. That's not the vision I have for America. I want to strengthen our defences and lower our taxes." Mr McCain has been encouraged by a couple of polls which show him in a near dead heat with Mr Obama, in contrast to most surveys which have the national average at between five and ten points. They also point to evidence that a similar proportion of Republicans as Democrats are voting early, though Republicans are fewer in total numbers. McCain advisers believe his economic message is finally gaining traction and harbour some hopes that covert racism will disprove the polls. The friend offered a sober assessment: "This thing is closer than the Obama people think. They are not going to win all the swing states where they are leading now but our problem is that we've got to run the board. The state polls are not good. John is going to have to roll sixes in every state." Senior figures in the party believe that Mr McCain has only a short time to turn around the polls. David Gergen, who has advised three Republican presidents, as well as Bill Clinton, said: "This campaign is slipping away from John McCain, that he only has three or four days to turn the momentum around in his favour." Dick Morris, another former White House strategist, said he thinks Mr McCain's Joe the Plumber adverts, touting his support for small businesses, will begin to show up in polls after the weekend: "On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of this week, we should see a gradual tightening of this race. If we don't, McCain is cooked."