The Corner

Re: Behind Bachmann’s Slide

As we noted last week, Michele Bachmann’s New Hampshire staffers have quit. Today, in a brutal statement, the departed team slams Bachmann’s national handlers for sequestering her “behind a wall of pretense, guarded by political operatives consumed by their own egos.”

The manner in which some in the national team conducted themselves towards Team-NH was rude, unprofessional, dishonest, and at times cruel. But more concerning was how abrasive, discourteous, and dismissive some within the national team were towards many New Hampshire citizens. These are our neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated them more as a nuisance than as potential supporters.

Through all this chaos, Team-NH was never involved in the shifting strategy discussions. Team members were repeatedly ignored regarding simple requests, sometimes going weeks with little or no contact with the national team. Yet the members of Team-NH remained committed to Congressman Bachmann, often at peril to their own personal and professional reputations within New Hampshire.

Sadly, all of this could have been avoided. It saddens this team to see a dedicated patriot – a person so desperately needed in the White House – sequestered behind a wall of pretense, guarded by political operatives consumed by their own egos.

Earlier this month, NRO reported on the fallout:

By that August afternoon, when Bachmann finally beat Paul in Ames (albeit by a slim margin), it was supposed to be, as she said, the start of something big. Yet as the crowds rallied at ISU, internally, the campaign was in disarray, with nonstop infighting. Bachmann’s message, her policy positions, early-state plans, media strategy — everything became a quarrel. The senior-staff rift over Ames, which started as a fracture, widened into a gulf, with Polyansky and his on-the-ground political team operating separately from Bachmann’s on-the-bus sphere.

Rollins, still the campaign manager, was torn: He was reluctant to fire senior staff and upset Bachmann, but knew the campaign was collapsing. By late August, the campaign staff was far from a cohesive unit, multiple sources say. Publicly, Bachmann was coasting, a rising candidate, but inside, it was a disaster — a nonstop battle between the “bus crew” and her paid consultants. Rollins grew increasingly exasperated with Bachmann’s decisions; the others told the congresswoman not to sweat the former Reagan strategist’s off-site demands.

That group on the bus — advance man Keith Nahigian; press secretary Alice Stewart; her policy guru, Brett O’Donnell, the former debate coach at Liberty University; and other staffers — began to hold greater sway over every detail, from debate prep to messaging. Even on the media front, where Rollins had built valuable relationships, he was overruled. “What people don’t understand is that this was festering all summer,” says one source. “Rollins’s break began before Ames. The group never clicked; disagreements were constant.”