Michele Bachmann's New Hampshire campaign staff is definitely gone, even though Bachmann said she didn't know about it.
The news that all five of Bachmann's paid staffers in New Hampshire had quit broke on Friday, but when Radio Iowa approached Bachmann for comment, she said all was well.
That is a shocking story to me, she said. I don't know where that came from. We have called staff in New Hampshire to find out where that came from and the staff have said that isn't true, so I don't know if this is just a bad story that's being fed by a different candidate or campaign. I have no idea where this came from, but we've made calls and it's certainly not true.
But it is true, the staffers themselves confirmed in no uncertain terms in a statement released on Monday.
It should be clear that the entire New Hampshire team has departed, the statement said. While they collectively felt loyalty to the candidate, they no longer have faith in the national team. This is a sentiment that has been building since June and was expressed on numerous occasions to members of the national team. It is now apparent that Team NH's concerns were not fully shared with Congresswoman Bachmann and were not taken seriously.... These are symptoms of the disease that infects too many members of the national campaign team.
A New Hampshire Controversy
The five staffers -- Jeff Chidester, Matt LeDuc, Caroline Gigler, Tom Lukacz and Nicole Yurek -- said they could not continue to work for a campaign that was focusing so little on New Hampshire. Bachmann has been pouring most of her resources into the Iowa, where socially conservative voters play a major role in the nation's first caucuses.
Team NH was never involved in the shifting strategy discussions, the statement said. Team members were repeatedly ignored regarding simple requests, sometimes going weeks with little or no contact with the national team. Yet the members of Team NH remained committed to Congresswoman Bachmann, often at peril to their own personal and professional reputations within New Hampshire.
The staffers claimed that because of the campaign's financial struggles, they had not been paid in a month. They also accused members of Bachmann's national campaign of being abrasive, discourteous and dismissive toward New Hampshire voters, treat[ing] them more as a nuisance than as potential supporters.
In a statement released Friday, the national campaign denied any knowledge of the resignations but admitted that its main focus was Iowa.
We have a great team in New Hampshire and we have not been notified that anyone is leaving the campaign, the statement said. We look forward to spending more time in the Granite State between now and the primary, but our campaign has emphasized that our main focus is the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, and we are continuing to build efforts there.
Bachmann Campaign Departures Mount
This is far from the first major personnel loss for the Bachmann campaign. Bachmann's chief strategist, Ed Rollins, and her chief pollster, Ed Goeas, both quit in September, and her congressional spokesman, Doug Sactleben, quit this month.
Bachmann also spent more money than she raised in the third quarter, and she has been unable to lift her poll numbers -- which reached 15 percent in August and carried her to victory in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa -- out of the low single digits.
And, to add insult to injury, at least one of her former New Hampshire staffers, Caroline Gigler, has accepted a job with Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign.