Days after Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) snagged Ed Rollins as manager of her nascent presidential campaign, the high-profile strategist is engaged in a war of words with advisers to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Palin and Bachmann are potential rivals in the 2012 GOP presidential primary contest. Bachmann is expected to kick off her campaign this month in Iowa, a crucial early state where she spent much of her childhood, while Palin seems to still be considering a campaign, exploring the possibility during a recent bus tour of historical sites. If they both ran, the women would draw from the same conservative base.
The spat between their advisers began Tuesday when Rollins disparaged Palin in a radio interview. “Sarah has not been serious over the last couple of years,” Rollins said. “She got the vice presidential thing handed to her. She didn’t go to work in the sense of trying to gain more substance. She gave up her governorship.”
In an interview with Politico, Rollins made the point again. Bachmann will “be so much more substantive. People are going to say, ‘I gotta make a choice and go with the intelligent woman who’s every bit as attractive.’ ”
On Wednesday, Michael Glassner, Palin’s chief of staff, responded with a statement of his own: “Beltway political strategist Ed Rollins has a long, long track record of taking high profile jobs and promptly sticking his foot in his mouth.”
The fight between aides to two unofficial candidates is an indication that members of Palin’s team are no longer willing to sit idly by while other Republicans take digs at their boss. That shift could signal the beginning of an ugly war between the high-profile Palin and lesser-known rivals.
Rollins is known for his tendency toward brutal honesty. He told CNN on Wednesday that he needs to adjust from “being a political analyst back to being a strategist.”
“I don’t think Palin runs, and if she does, we will deal with it. There obviously is a trend in the media to link them,” he added. “In the long run we want Palin and her people as our allies.”