Bachmann's Iowa Campaign Says New Hampshire Staff Didn't Quit
News of disarray in the Bachmann campaign in New Hampshire fuels speculation she's pinning her hopes for the nomination on Iowa.
Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign dismissed reports Friday afternoon from New Hampshire that all five members of her staff there jumped ship, even though that state's campaign director told the Manchester Union Leader he quit last week.
“It’s gossip and a waste of time,” said Eric Woolson, a spokesman for Bachmann’s Iowa campaign.
Woolson said he has fielded about 25 interviews from the media after reports of a mass defection by Bachmann’s New Hampshire campaign staff, apparently stemming from a heavy focus of campaign efforts in Iowa and its lead-off caucuses on Jan. 3.
Bachmann's national campaign manager, Keith Nahigian, said in a statement that the campaign has not been notified that anyone is leaving the campaign in New Hampshire. He also confirmed the campaign's focus on Iowa, where Bachmann will spend the majority of her time "doing what she does better than all the other candidates – retail politics – leading up to the all-important caucuses."
Woolson said whether “one person did or did not quit, as opposed to en masse defection” shouldn’t matter to Iowa voters, who want to hear more about the Minnesota congresswoman’s campaign on economic issues.
“Just because somebody quit in New Hampshire doesn’t mean anything in Iowa,” he said.
Woolson said Bachmann has the staff in place in Iowa “to get the job done.”
The statement from Bachmann’s campaign came after Radio Iowa reported that Bachmann called the studio and said the reports were “shocking” and that “it’s certainly not true.”
However, the Manchester, NH Union Leader reported today that the Bachmann’s campaign manager, Jeff Chidester left the campaign last week, and that three other staffers left, as well.
The New York Times reported last week that Bachmann is focusing more effort on Iowa, leading to speculation that Iowa is a make-or-break state for the Minnesota congresswoman, whose poll numbers have tumbled after a big win in the Ames Straw Poll in August.
A spokeswoman for Saturday’s Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition presidential forum in Des Moines said it’s important that Bachmann make a strong appearance, especially after the campaign calender was compressed when the Iowa Caucuses were moved up to Jan. 3.
“This is definitely an important event for her,” said Peggy Hermann, a Faith and Freedom Caolition board member.
Bachmann’s campaign themes resonate strongly with Faith and Freedom Coalition supporters, Hermann said, but the six candidates attending the event need to be more detailed in their plans. Also confirmed are Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum.
Herman dismissed criticism that Bachmann doesn’t have the credentials to be president.
“She really has great credentials,” Hermann said. “Right now, she’s in Washington, and she’s on some very important committees – certainly National Security. She’s on the front line. She’s a tax attorney, and the biggest gripe we get from our constituents is that the tax code needs to be changed and simplified. That’s her bailiwick.”
The reports out of New Hampshire are persistent. ABC News reported that five staffers quit because they didn’t think Bachmann paid enough attention to New Hampshire.
Amherst Patch in New Hampshire reported in September on what political observers called a weak ground game in New Hampshire. “If we go much longer without seeing her, she’s going to turn up on milk cartons,” Pat Griffin, a senior fellow Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute for Politics.