Bachmann's N.H. Campaign Staff Quits

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The campaign of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann suffered the latest in a series of setbacks this week: Her paid New Hampshire campaign staff resigned en masse on Thursday. Bachmann has argued that the Iowa caucuses are the centerpiece of her primary strategy. But the announcement follows the departures of several high-profile campaign staffers, the closure of a campaign office in northern Virginia and a weak Federal Election Commission filing last weekend.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. There was a shakeup today in the campaign of Minnesota congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Several members of her New Hampshire staff have resigned. The departures are just the latest setback for a campaign that has already lost top aides, closed down a northern Virginia campaign office and spent more money last quarter than it raised.

New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers reports.

JOSH ROGERS, BYLINE: Michele Bachmann announced her presidential run at a debate here in June and, during each of her four trips to New Hampshire, Bachmann's been quick to insist she's a natural fit for the state.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: New Hampshire is all about low taxes and liberty and that's what I'm about and so we're a perfect match, a marriage made in heaven.

ROGERS: But apparently, Bachmann's paid New Hampshire staffers don't see it that way. As first reported by TV station, WMUR, some half dozen campaign workers quit en masse because Bachmann hasn't spent much time in the Granite State. Neither the former staffers nor Bachmann's campaign returned calls for this story, but political scientist Dean Spiliotes of Southern New Hampshire University says the exodus just adds to Bachmann's steep local challenges.

DEAN SPILIOTES: The reality is, you know, her ability to compete in this state given her ideological positioning has always been a little bit in question.

ROGERS: Bachmann confirmed last week what her campaign schedule already made clear: She was focusing her efforts on the Iowa caucuses where socially conservative voters play a key role. Fiscal issues tend to play a larger role in New Hampshire.

University of New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith says Bachmann's probably better off concentrating on Iowa given her downward trajectory in the polls here.

ANDY SMITH: Bachmann now is the least popular among the Republican candidates in New Hampshire at a minus 18 net favorability rating.

ROGERS: New Hampshire's traditionally been the last best hope for the long shot candidate, but this year, it seems unlikely to play that role for Michele Bachmann. For NPR News, I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, New Hampshire.

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