DES MOINES, Iowa - As GOP contender Michele Bachmann's bus pulls into Nevada, Iowa, today, concluding a 99-county tour of the state, the Minnesota Republican is forced to explain why the wheels aren't actually coming off her campaign given a spate of recent setbacks.
Bachmann was forced to explain Thursday not only why her Iowa chairman, State Sen. Kent Sorenson, defected from her campaign to endorse Ron Paul at the 11th hour, but also why her senior political advisor issued a statement refuting Bachmann's explanation.
Sorenson, Bachmann told reporters Thursday, was "offered a great deal of money" by the Paul campaign to switch teams just five days before the first-in-the-nation caucuses on Jan. 3.
She characterized Sorenson's departure as political poaching, calling it an "aggressive action by the Ron Paul" campaign.
Bachmann's Iowa political director, Wes Enos, who like Sorenson joined her campaign in its first days, released a statement under Ron Paul's letterhead refuting Bachmann's assertion that Sorenson had been paid to go. Sorenson and Enos both say the state senator decided to back Paul because he had many friends on that campaign, and believed Paul has the best chance of winning.
According to Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart, Enos "is no longer with us," but she would not confirm whether he'd been fired for insubordination or left on his own accord.
She said her campaign's organization was strong and she had registered 95 county chairs for caucus night. She said the Paul campaign went after Sorenson after she dealt Rep. Ron Paul a blow in the last televised debate, hammering him on national security issues.
While Enos says Sorenson received no money, Republican operative Susan Geddes told the AP that Sorenson told her he would be paid to defect.
Calls to Sorenson and Enos were not returned.
In addition to Sorenson's leaving Wednesday, Bachmann placed essentially last, with 9 percent of the vote, in a CNN Iowa poll.