Columbia, S.C. — Sources close to Rep. Michele Bachmann tell National Review Online that the Minnesota Republican has known for days that Ed Rollins, her campaign manager, would be stepping down from that post. Rollins reportedly spoke with Bachmann last Thursday and discussed his growing concerns about his health. His increased workload, he told Bachmann, following her Ames straw-poll win, worried his family. She respected his decision but urged him to stay involved.
Indeed, the relations between the pair, one source says, remain warm, and Rollins will be “kind of a Yoda” moving forward, advising Bachmann’s team about big-picture strategy. He will also remain on the payroll and will travel with the Bachmann family to high-profile events.
“[Rollins] was never involved in the minutia to begin with, so not much is going to change,” the source continues. “He was always the architect, working with her, but it was always really an advisory role for him. She liked having him there, in terms of how he saw things. In terms of management, that stuff was often handled by others.” Keith Nahigian, a top advance man and former McCain campaign aide, will take over as campaign manager, working closely with Rollins.
In coming weeks, Bachmann’s campaign, sources say, will be focused on debates. But don’t expect Bachmann to go after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, her tea-party competitor, at least initially. Bachmann, another adviser explains, is aiming to use the debate at the Reagan library this week to reassert her credentials and message, “in the style of her New Hampshire debate, not the Iowa debate, where she fought with [Tim] Pawlenty.”
Bachmann will also use the autumn campaign season to play up her congressional leadership, taking bold positions on the Obama jobs plan and other issues that pop up. She hopes to utilize her seat in the House to draw the spotlight to her political, “in-the-arena message,” which, campaign sources lament, has been a tad muted by the summer recess.
Interestingly, Bachmann, very much under the radar, has spent much of the late summer tending to family concerns. She sent two daughters off to college and assisted them both with moving in, from going to Walmart to buy supplies to lifting boxes. This was time away from the campaign, “home economics,” as one source put it, which she did gladly, but it was time, however brief, spent away from the trail. With her kids studying, expect her to travel to Iowa, South Carolina, and other early primary states at an even brisker pace.