Finally, we're in the last week of the midterm election cycle. While the GOP is up by almost any measure, there's no time for premature dances in the end zone. As candidates make their closing arguments, they have to make sure they don't do anything to jeopardize their wins by saying something stupid, over-reacting to an attack, or running out of airspeed and altitude in the final stretch.
Here are five ways Republican candidates can keep from blowing it in the last week of the campaign:
1. Don't give any big interviews to the mainstream media -- this can only lead to a self-inflicted wound.
I typically recommend talking early and often to the press -- if you're not talking to them, someone else is.
But in these final days, a big profile interview by a journalist is just too risky. The editors didn't assign it to the reporter in order to help you – believe me. And don't fall for the line that it'll be really positive for you and a great way to get your message out in the last days of the election. There are a lot of ways to communicate now -- utilize those and tell the paper or the television reporters you'll be happy to talk to them in the days following your victory party.
2. "Dig deep" was Sarah Palin's advice to Republican voters the other day -- and she's right. Now's the time when a candidate's energy has to be redoubled. Everyone's tired at this point, but what's all this work been for if you decide there's nothing more you can do?
I once heard a marathon runner say that the first 20 miles of a 26.2 mile race requires 90 percent of your resources, and that the last 6.2 miles require...90 percent of your resources.
So get some good sleep at night, but hit the ground running all day long -- you never know who you'll convince in those last laps.
3. Make a promise to your family.
When you decided to run, you made a decision that would put your family through a lot -- every move you made was scrutinized, and maybe one of your loved ones was attacked in the process.
When you are elected to serve, they serve right along with you.
So make a promise to them -- whether it’s that you will take them on a family vacation in the spring, that you'll dedicate Sundays to them alone, or that dinnertime will be a BlackBerry-free zone. They'll be proud of your win, but the hours and pressure will wear on them, too. If you give them something to look forward to, everyone will be more relaxed. Oh –- and don't forget to KEEP this promise.
4. Stay Grounded.
Democrats have found their best weapon in this election, and it has nothing to do with their policies - it has to do with character assassination. Some of the things they've said are shocking, and I'm sure some of it's infuriating. Let your campaign staff and surrogates respond on your behalf so that you can keep a relentless focus on the issues. Winning on the merits will feel better on election night than if you joined them in the mud. Don't let them knock you off your game.
5. Remember why you decided to run in the first place.
Think back to the moment when you finally made the decision to run. Maybe you had a family meeting or maybe you prayed and found a comfort there that was a calling to put your name and reputation on the line to run for elected office. All of the fundraising, BBQs, parades, phone banks, debates -- that's all part of the process.
But what's really important, and what can provide you that extra burst of energy in these final days, is a quiet moment of reflection about the decision you made to serve. Focus on that and let it settle into your heart and mind.
When I worked in the White House, Chief of Staff Andy Card suggested taking a second every day to appreciate the opportunity to serve. I always remembered his words and never stepped into the West Wing without one of those moments. It helped me remember why I was there in the first place – especially when the alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. every day -- and it's something you can start doing next January after you’re sworn in.
Dana Perino is a former White House press secretary. She is a Fox News contributor.
Dana Perino currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's "The Five" (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). She previously served as Press Secretary for President George W. Bush. Ms. Perino joined the network in 2009 as a contributor. Click here for more information on Dana Perino.