Top Republican lieutenants who have been toiling with John McCain to put him in the White House are starting to turn on each other as they calculate that every last wheel has come off their campaign wagon and there is no putting them back on again.
Even as some of his backers argue that Barack Obama's lead in the polls is still not insurmountable, others in Mr McCain's circle are reportedly succumbing to the instincts of professional survival and political buck-passing. The fault for impending defeat must be assigned elsewhere.
A new Reuters-Zogby poll last night gave Mr Obama, who remained in Hawaii at the bedside of his ailing grandmother, a 10-point lead nationally. Meanwhile, new financial filings revealed that the make-up artist assigned to the running-mate, Sarah Palin, was paid more in the first half of October than any other employee of the campaign, including Mr McCain's most senior advisers and strategists.
"If you really want to see what 'going negative' is in politics, just watch the back-stabbing and blame game that we're starting to see," Mark McKinnon, a former McCain aide, told politico.com. "There's one common theme: everyone who wasn't part of the campaign could have done better."