With Friends Like These …? Bachmann’s Former Campaign Manager Becoming Her Chief Critic

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Ed Rollins was running Rep. Michele Bachmann’s GOP campaign two weeks ago, but today it’s hard to find anyone doing more harm to her presidential hopes.

When Rollins gave up his post as campaign manager on Labor Day, a campaign spokesman blamed his move on health concerns and noted that he would continue working for her as “a valuable senior adviser.”

“I am grateful for his guidance and leadership, and fortunate to retain his valuable advice even though his health no longer permits him to oversee the day-to-day operations of the campaign,” Bachmann said in a statement announcing the staff shakeup.

But in the two weeks since then, Rollins seems to be delivering a lot more verbal barbs than “valuable advice.”

He told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell today that the Minnesota congresswoman lacks the “ability or the resources” to stay in the race longer than the Iowa caucuses, scheduled for February 2012 as the first leg of the nomination process.

He ripped Bachmann last week for suggesting that the HPV vaccine Gardisil — mandated by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in an effort to prevent cervical cancer (and overturned by the state Legislature) — could cause mental retardation, a claim widely refuted by medical experts. Rollins told MSNBC’s “Hardball” that “the quicker she admits she made a mistake, the better.”

Rollins was already hitting out at his former boss even the same day he left Bachmann’s campaign

“Legitimately, it’s a Romney-Perry race,” he said Sept. 5 on CNN.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that Rollins now says he has virtually no involvement with Bachmann’s campaign. In an interview four days ago on CNN, John King asked Rollins to rate his involvement with the Bachmann campaign on a scale of 1 to 10, with “one” being not involved and “10? being very involved.

Rollins’ response? “Two or three.”

Ultimately, it’s nothing new for Rollins to rip his former bosses. He also went on public rants against Mike Huckabee when the former Arkansas governor decided not to run for president. But this instance is far more damaging because Bachmann is an actual candidate.

While Rollins is the most prominent and vocal critic of Bachmann these days, he is hardly the only former staffer of hers who is now speaking out. At least one other former Bachmann chief of staff — Ron Carey — has said unkind things on TV and in newspaper interviews about his former boss. And with Bachmann notorious for a high turnover rate as a boss, namely in her congressional office, more critics might soon emerge.

Michael Falcone contributed to this report.


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