In her five years in Congress, Michele Bachmann has earned a reputation for high staff turnover. That this pattern is repeating itself in her presidential campaign can’t be considered unexpected, but the loss of two senior aides during the weekend was bad timing to say the least. Coming as it does in the wake of a decline in her standing in the polls that knocked her out of the first tier of GOP candidates, the defection of campaign manager Ed Rollins and his deputy is yet another blow to an already faltering candidacy overshadowed by Rick Perry’s entry in the race.
Given Rollins’ own well-earned reputation as a loose cannon whose propensity for loose lips was often more of a political liability than anything his candidates said, the blame for this resignation probably should not be placed on Bachmann. Having jumped onto Bachmann’s bandwagon just as she was gaining momentum back in the spring, he’s jumping off after her first real setback. This leaves Bachmann scrambling for organizational coherence just at the moment when she seems to be slipping out of contention.
At this time, it doesn’t seem likely any campaign manager could put Bachmann back into the mix with Perry and Mitt Romney. With Perry having effectively stolen Bachmann’s Tea Party constituency out from under her just as she was triumphing in the Iowa Straw Poll, it’s not clear that even a stellar debate performance in California this week or the other upcoming gatherings of GOP candidates will enable her to recapture the magic that made her a star in the early summer.
Bachmann hired Rollins in order to give her campaign some high profile credibility. And there’s no doubt his expertise helped her in Iowa. But Rollins turned out to be unable or unwilling to stick with her for the long haul. The moral of the story is: sometimes a big name in political campaigns is more trouble than it’s worth.