Ed Rollins, who left the campaign in September, said the Minnesota congresswoman had backed off earlier comments by her campaign that Iowa was a “must-win” state because she lacked the finances, campaign structure, and ideas to win the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
“She’s still saying the same things she said in the first the debate. There’s no substance. She says, ‘I’m going to repeal Obamacare.’ But she’s been saying that from Day 1. I told her: That’s your Tea Party speech, now you have to say what you’re going to do next.”
In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Bachmann refused to say whether Iowa was a “must win” state as her current campaign manager, Keith Nahigian, had said. Nahigian took over after Rollins left.
“Of course, we’re focused on Iowa. We’re focused on the schedule and the primary process. Iowa is the first caucus. Then on to New Hampshire. And after that, the first in the South, which will be South Carolina. So we’re focused on the schedule that the states are now agreeing on, and that’s our order,” Bachmann said.
“But is it a must-win for you,” anchor Christiane Amanpour asked.
“Well, we’re focused on it as we are all on the states,” Bachmann responded.
That’s a less full-throated commitment than Nahigian made last month.
“She has to win Iowa and move on from there,” Nahigian said in a web video in September that featured a graphic calling Iowa a “must win state.”
Bachmann has seen her poll numbers plummet since she won the Ames, Iowa straw poll in August. In a recent Des Moines Register poll, the Minnesota congresswoman was polling in fourth place.
Rollins said he left the campaign because he didn’t want to spend an Iowa winter “fighting with a candidate who wouldn’t listen and had no money.” The campaign should focus solely on Iowa, he told her, but he says she wanted to campaign early on in New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina.
There’s been no love lost between Rollins and Bachmann in the weeks since he left the campaign. They’ve traded barbs in the media. Bachmann recently joked that she wished she had Googled Rollins before hiring him.
But Rollins, who took former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to victory in Iowa in 2008, said Bachmann approached him three four times for the job.
Bachmann today took new steps to strengthen her ground game in Iowa, announcing the names of 64 “grassroots activists” who will be working the state’s southeast.
“The caucuses are won precinct-by-precinct, with neighbors talking to neighbors, friends talking to friends. These supporters, like others around the state, are already working hard on Michele Bachmann’s behalf to bring home a victory,” said state Sen. Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s state chairman, in a statement released by the campaign. “Southeast Iowa proved to be an important region in the 2008 caucuses and the same will be true in 2012.”
The Bachmann campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Rollins’ remarks.