You can always tell when a campaign is failing. First, the press secretary fusses about the coverage of the candidate. Even recaps of the day’s events become nettlesome to the campaign. The problems of a candidate are usually blamed on “communications” so at this point he/she is under immense pressure to “fix things.” Second, the campign airs its dirty laundry. No campaign is likely to top McCain-Palin in 2008. But Tim Pawlenty’s campaign certainly seems to be going down that road. Matt Lewis has a “get the campaign manager” piece obviously sourced to rivals on the campaign. A snippet:

If Mitt Romney was the most hated candidate among his 2008 GOP peers, Nick Ayers is probably the most hated among the political operative set — and for many of the same reasons: His self-promotion is utterly transparent — and his early successes have made him a target of jealous contemporaries.

Good golly. There aren’t a lot of details, and if self-promotion were a no-no it would come as a shock to virtually everyone in the political establishment. But let’s face it: When a campaign is doing poorly the first step is to change the campaign manager. This is especially so when fundraising totals are modest and a debate (in New Hampshire) goes poorly.

This will no doubt revive rumors that have floated around for some time about a split within the Pawlenty camp between manager Ayers and senior aide Phil Musser (along with Musser’s hires). Others have speculated that Ayers will jump ship to work on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign, a charge denied by the campaign. In any event, the Lewis article suggests there isn’t job stability for Ayers with Pawlenty.

What is clear is that Pawlenty’s campaign is in danger of losing any semblance of professionalism. It is taking on a frazzled, if not chaotic, aura. And that’s the last thing the campaign needs as it tries doggedly to make a respectable showing in Ames.