Ed Rollins, the veteran political strategist, is leaving Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign, a move he insists should be not be read as a lack of faith in the candidate, who has struggled to find traction in recent weeks as Rick Perry has zoomed to the front of the pack.
The Bachmann campaign announced the move in a statement late Monday, saying Rollins is stepping down as campaign manager for health reasons.
“In less than 50 days and with fewer resources than other campaigns, Ed was the architect that led our campaign to a historic victory in Iowa,” Bachmann said. "I am grateful for his guidance and leadership, and fortunate to retain his valuable advice even though his health no longer permits him to oversee the day-to-day operations of the campaign.”
Rollins, a former advisor to Ronald Reagan, was widely viewed as the man who helped shape Bachmann’s transformation from a fringe politician with limited “tea party” support to a potential national candidate. But while Rollins is reportedly leaving because of his health, his deputy, David Polyansky, is leaving with him, according to Politico.
“I want nothing but the best for her; she’s a great candidate; I’ll continue to be there for her,” Rollins told Politico.
The campaign said Keith Nahigian, Bachmann’s advance man, would assume the role of interim campaign manager.
Rollins and Polyansky were the faces of the campaign during Bachmann’s recent win in the Iowa Straw Poll, a victory at the time that was viewed as a major triumph for the Minnesota congresswoman, one that would potentially propel her into the top tier of candidates running for the GOP nomination.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Perry managed to steal some of Bachmann’s thunder right out of the gate, announcing his presidential bid on the same day as the poll and showing up a day later at an Iowa event along with Bachmann.
Since then, Perry appears to have seized the imagination of the very conservative voters in Iowa and South Carolina that Bachmann has been so diligently courting. Polls have shown Bachmann lagging behind Perry and Mitt Romney.
At the same time, the candidate has faced questions, particularly in Iowa, about her campaign style, which often involves brief appearances at events, rather than extended, retail-style politicking.
September looms as a crucial month for Bachmann. She’ll participate in a series of debates, the first Wednesday evening in Simi Valley with political observers keenly watching whether she’ll begin to try and dent Perry.
The month will also bring the third-quarter fund-raising period to a close—and her tally will be closely watched as an indicator of her strength going forward.
Even the schedule hasn’t broken Bachmann’s way. She had to scrap a Thursday breakfast meeting with Republicans in Los Angeles to return to Washington for President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. Meanwhile, Perry is slated to be all over Southern California that day.