Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign saw a major shakeup on Monday as her campaign manager and deputy campaign manager quit. Ed Rollins, who said he was leaving the campaign for health reasons, and David Polyansky both wished the campaign well in several media appearances Monday evening. The shakeup comes at an unfortunate time for Bachmann, whose campaign has been pushed to the middle of the Republican pack by Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent announcement of a run for the nation’s highest office.
“I wish I was 40 years old, but I’m not,” Rollins told Politico which broke the story Monday evening. “I’m 68 years old, I had a stroke a year and a half ago. I’m worn out. I want nothing but the best for her, she’s a great candidate, I’ll continue to be there for her.”
Politico also reported that Polyansky is quitting. “I wish Michele nothing but the best, and anyone who underestimates her as a candidate does so at their own peril,” Polyansky told Politico.
The move comes a day after Rollins told the Washington Post that the campaign had lost its top-tier status.
“The Perry-Romney race is now the story, with us the third candidate,” Rollins said.
While Rollins quit for health reasons and will remain an adviser to the campaign, Politico says that Polyansky had “strategic differences on the path forward” with the candidate, according to an unnamed source.
Bachmann’s campaign released a statement on Monday night announced that Keith Nahigian would be taking over as campaign manager.
“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. “Keith has played a vital role in the success we have had to date and I’m confident he can lead us to a strong finish in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and across the country.”
The Associated Press was quick to note that Bachmann often struggles to maintain top staff, and some have even noted difficulty working with her. The AP counted up the tally and found that Bachmann has lost six chiefs of staff, five press secretaries, five legislative directors and three communications directors since she settled into the House in 2007.
Bachmann, known for being gaffe-prone yet agile enough to recover among her base, will likely provide Nahigian with some challenges.
Nahigian was former Vice President Dan Quayle’s handler during his infamous gaffe. At a Trenton, N.J., after school program, Quayle told a student that he had spelled “potato” wrong. Insisting it was spelled “P-O-T-A-T-O-E,” he became the laughing stock of late night comedians.
When he got the Munoz Rivera School, Quayle spoke with some women involved in the program, saw a drill team perform and looked in on some self-esteem classes before his aides started hustling him off to another classroom for a staged spelling bee.
“What are we supposed to do?’’ I asked Keith Nahigian, the advance man who had prepared this little photo op,’’ Quayle wrote.
“Just sit there and read these words off some flash cards, and the kids will go up and spell them at the blackboard,’’ the handler told the VP.
“Has anyone checked the card?’’ another aide asked.
“Oh, yeah,’’ responded Nahigian. “We looked at them and they’re just very simple words. No big deal.’’
Enter William Figueroa, 12, a sixth-grader from the Mott School in the South Ward who had been bused to Munoz Rivera to take part in the vice presidential event.
Figueroa knew how to spell potato, and he wrote it in a legible script on the blackboard when Quayle announced his word for the spelling bee.
Quayle looked at the blackboard, then at his contest card, and gently and quietly told the boy, “You’re close, but you left a little something off. The e on the end.