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Top Bachmann aides stepping aside

at 09:00 PM ET, 09/05/2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign is undergoing significant staffing changes, with campaign manager Ed Rollins taking on a reduced role and deputy campaign manager David Polyansky departing.

Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart confirmed the moves to The Fix. Separately, the campaign announced that Keith Nahigian will serve as interim campaign manager.

Rollins, whose decision to step back was first reported by Politico, told The Fix that he was too old to deal with the grind of the day-to-day campaign.

“I am tired and am concerned about my health,” Rollins said. “Managing a campaign is tough for a young man, and I am 68 and battered by many years of campaign combat.”

Polyansky’s departure at the same time, of course, will raise questions about whether this, in fact, represents a strategic shakeup for a campaign that has taken a back seat in the Republican presidential race since Texas Gov. Rick Perry got into the race. Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll three weeks ago but has struggled to build on that win.

Stewart said the departures don’t constitute a shakeup, but instead a “restructuring.” Rollins will remain with the campaign as a senior advisor.

A Bachmann campaign release late Monday made no mention of Polyansky’s departure.

Rollins said it was his decision to step back.

“It was time to hand it off,” he said. “I love Michele, have come to have great respect for her as a candidate and will continue to help her in anyway she needs.”

The staff changes aren’t the first for Bachmann. Last month, senior adviser Ed Brookover left the campaign to start a super PAC that supports Bachmann.

Hovering over the departures is Bachmann’s reputation. She, more than most members of Congress, is notorious for the amount of staff turnover in her congressional office, going through numerous chiefs of staff, including some who don’t speak highly of the congresswoman these days.

Any kind of departures at the highest levels of a campaign is generally seen as a bad thing. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, for example, parted ways with his campaign manager earlier this year after a rollout that didn’t go as well as hoped.

Amy Gardner contributed to this report.

 
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