(CNN) - John McCain faces the "crisis of his career," says former House Speak Newt Gingrich, who predicted the Republican nominee will lose the election unless he makes a public break from the economic bailout proposal.
In a column posted on the Web site of the conservative Human Events Tuesday, Gingrich says it is impossible for McCain to catch up in the national or state polls unless he taps into the anger many Americans feel toward the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street investment banks.
"If Senator McCain is not prepared to separate himself from the Bush-Paulson economic program, he has no opportunity to win," Gingrich writes. "The country is deeply fed up with the Bush presidency and angry about the Paulson bailout. If McCain is confused or uncertain about how bad this economic performance is, he will never get the country to listen to him."
Gingrich is the latest prominent conservative to criticize McCain for supporting the bill, which Congress passed last week. Speaking on CNN last week, radio host Glenn Beck said the Arizona senator will lose the election over the vote: I think he lost the election - there was a moment here for somebody here to rise up as a leader," Beck said.
The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll confirms the majority of Americans remain deeply distrustful of the massive bailout package. According to the new survey released Tuesday, close to 60 percent say the plan will not treat taxpayers fairly, and more than half think the government will only get a little bit of the money back. More than half also said they don't think the government will spend the money properly.
"Just as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (as well as the House Republicans in 1994 with the Contract with America) created a large argument which led to a decisive result, so McCain has an opportunity to reach beyond the daily attacks and clever tactics and spend the last 28 days of this campaign making a large argument over America's future," Gingrich, a primary author of the 1994 Contract with America, also said.
But it may be impossible for McCain to publicly break with the president on the plan. The GOP nominee suspended his campaign two weeks ago to ensure the economic bailout package was passed. When he cast his vote for the bill last week, McCain said it was "significantly improved" from its original version and now included "strengthened protections and oversight" for taxpayers. Though the legislation did contain billions in earmarks, something McCain said he opposed.
McCain campaign aides have since said they are aiming to turn the narrative on the campaign trail away from the country's financial woes and the unpopular economic bailout - a strategy Gingrich sharply opposes.
"If McCain is prepared to declare that it is time for a fundamental change away from the failure of Bush-Paulson and away from the leftism of Obama …then he has a huge opportunity," Gingrich writes.