ST. PAUL Minn. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is losing her pollster and senior adviser in a staff exodus that raises questions about the viability of her White House bid and her campaign finances.
Pollster Ed Goeas plans to leave the campaign after upcoming debates in New Hampshire and Nevada, and senior adviser Andy Parrish is returning to the Minnesota congresswoman’s office where he served as chief of staff.
“Given the changing caucus and primary schedule, we will not be utilizing full-time polling consultants and (will) concentrate heavily on retail politics in Iowa,” said Alice Stewart, a Bachmann spokeswoman. “Ed will work on several projects with us this month, then we shift focus to Iowa and he will shift to other projects not associated with the campaign.”
An adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel moves confirmed Parrish’s departure. Parrish had moved to Iowa last summer to build support before the state’s leadoff 2012 caucuses.
The moves signal an effort to preserve money three months ahead of the first Republican nominating contests. Bachmann began July with about $3.6 million, most of which had been transferred from her congressional campaign account.
Bachmann has struggled to match her vast reach among small-dollar givers with checks near the $2,500 maximum donation. An update on her campaign’s financial health is due by Oct. 15.
In other staff changes, Doug Sachtleben, a deputy press secretary, had transferred back to the congressional office after only a couple months with the campaign. So has Bachmann’s scheduler, Kimberley Rubin.
In a statement released later Monday, Stewart said the moves were part of a longstanding strategy to “shift people and resources as needed.”
“We are adding staff in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to meet the demands of the changing caucus and primary schedule. With Congress back in session, we have shifted some employees back to the congressional office to meet the demands there,” Stewart said.
Last month, Bachmann’s campaign manager, Ed Rollins, and his deputy stepped down. Rollins cited health reasons and deputy David Polyansky attributed his departure to differences over the campaign’s direction. Their exit came within weeks of the candidate’s Iowa GOP straw poll victory.
Bachmann’s standing in the race suffered when Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his candidacy. She fell further in opinion polls after suggesting an unproven link between vaccines and mental retardation while trying to criticize Perry’s executive order requiring young girls to get immunized for the human papillomavirus, a sexually spread virus that can cause cervical cancer.
Bachmann, a favorite among tea partyers and evangelical voters, is betting her campaign on Iowa. She hopes a win there would propel her back into contention with national poll leaders Perry and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. She planned to spend parts of Monday and Tuesday in Iowa.
Bachmann is midway through her third term in the House. She suspended her congressional campaign efforts when she announced for president but hasn’t explicitly ruled out a re-election bid. She would have until next June to decide, although many party insiders are doubtful that Bachmann will try to reclaim her seat.
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