Image: Michele Bachmann
Cliff Owen  /  AP
In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.
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updated 10/3/2011 8:50:13 PM ET 2011-10-04T00:50:13

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is losing her pollster and senior adviser in a staff exodus that raises questions about the viability of her White House bid and her campaign finances.

Pollster Ed Goeas plans to leave the campaign after upcoming debates in New Hampshire and Nevada, and senior adviser Andy Parrish is returning to the Minnesota congresswoman's office where he served as chief of staff.

"Given the changing caucus and primary schedule, we will not be utilizing full-time polling consultants and (will) concentrate heavily on retail politics in Iowa," said Alice Stewart, a Bachmann spokeswoman. "Ed will work on several projects with us this month, then we shift focus to Iowa and he will shift to other projects not associated with the campaign."

An adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel moves confirmed Parrish's departure. Parrish had moved to Iowa this past summer to build support before the state's leadoff 2012 caucuses.

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The moves signal an effort to preserve money three months ahead of the first Republican nominating contests. Bachmann began July with about $3.6 million, most of which had been transferred from her congressional campaign account.

Video: Immigration war heats up on campaign trail (on this page)

Bachmann has struggled to match her vast reach among small-dollar givers with checks near the $2,500 maximum donation. An update on her campaign's financial health is due by Oct. 15.

In other staff changes, Doug Sachtleben, a deputy press secretary, had transferred back to the congressional office after only a couple months with the campaign. So has Bachmann's scheduler, Kimberley Rubin.

In a statement released later Monday, Stewart said the moves were part of a longstanding strategy to "shift people and resources as needed."

"We are adding staff in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to meet the demands of the changing caucus and primary schedule. With Congress back in session, we have shifted some employees back to the congressional office to meet the demands there," Stewart said.

Last month, Bachmann's campaign manager Ed Rollins and his deputy stepped down; Rollins citing health reasons and deputy David Polyansky attributing it to strategic differences over the campaign's direction. Their exit came within weeks of the candidate's Iowa GOP straw poll victory.

Bachmann's standing in the race suffered when Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his candidacy. She fell further in opinion polls after suggesting an unproven link between vaccines and mental retardation while trying to criticize Perry's executive order requiring young girls to get immunized for the human papillomavirus, a sexually spread virus that can cause cervical cancer.

Video: Bachmann: US weakness led to Arab Spring (on this page)

Bachmann, a favorite among tea partyers and evangelical voters, is betting her campaign on Iowa. She hopes a win there would propel her back into contention with national poll leaders Perry and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. She planned to spend parts of Monday and Tuesday in Iowa.

Bachmann is midway through her third term in the House. She suspended her congressional campaign efforts when she announced for president but hasn't explicitly ruled out a re-election bid. She would have until next June to decide, although many party insiders are doubtful that Bachmann will try to reclaim her seat.

___

Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed from Washington.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Immigration war heats up on campaign trail

  1. Closed captioning of: Immigration war heats up on campaign trail

    >>> a new ad by michele bachmann attacks rick perry on immigration. they say week-long offensive on the text governor for comments he made at the last debate. he defended in state tuition rates for illegal immigration . in is bachmann's response.

    >> last week we conservatives were accused of not having a heart. nothing could be further from the truth. it's just is that we have a mind to go with that heart. we can't settle for a president who doesn't understand illegal immigration is illegal and shouldn't be rewarded.

    >> joining me now is susan page , washington bureau chief for " usa today ." good to see you.

    >> nice to be here.

    >> so, susan, we had romney also releasing an ad hitting perry on that comment. is immigration an issue that could turn the gop primary and if it is, who stands to benefit?

    >> this is rick perry 's biggest single problem. the biggest problem isn't that he gave that wandering answer when he was asked about pakistan and the debate. it's that he was at odds with his republican base and his core voters on the issue of immigration. while he's tried to walk back the comment he said where if you had a different view, you didn't have a heart, the fact is he hasn't walked back from the position he took, which is a good thing in texas to allow in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants who are here illegally themselves.

    >> okay. let's take a listen to perry going after romney in a speech yesterday in atlanta. here's that.

    >> i'm confident we're going to chose a nominee that has governed with conservative principles, not paid the way for obama care, a path that blazed this world with higher premiums and with the loss of thousands of jobs.

    >> so, perry 's trying to hit his biggest rival here, but when will the rest of the field start giving romney some heat? it still seems to be pile on perry time.

    >> well, you know, i don't think the race now is between -- among awe the candidates is between romney and the rest of the field. so everybody else wants to be the anti- romney candidate, which is why we see michele bachmann and rick santorum and others really targeting rick perry , who is at least at the moment romney 's biggest contender. you know, we're not going to settle this race right now. we're going to have a contest in iowa and new hampshire and nevada and south carolina and florida. there is going to be at the end, i think, most analysts believe, two finalists. one will be romney . what we don't know who is the other -- it's as if that's the case, that means everybody else is battling amongst themselves, they can portray themselves as the most conservative and be that person against romney ?

    >> that's right. most conservative, most appealing to the tea party candidates. what do we see from the flurry about will chris christie run or will someone else jump in this race? it's that there are a group of republicans that are not happy with their choice. especially with the option of mitt romney as the nominee. now, he may still get the nomination. some things that give him problems in the primaries could actually help mitt romney in a general election . but that is the race we're going to see.

    >> in the latest fox news poll this week, herman cain seems to have jumped into the top tier . are you surprised by this, susan? do you think he can maintain this?

    >> you know, i think this also reflects a little bit of dissatisfaction with the choices republicans have. i was down in florida last weekend covering that straw poll that herman cain actually won. when i talked to delegates there who were going to vote for herman cain , it was because they were uneasy about rick perry . a lot arrived at the straw poll thinking they wanted to support governor perry , unhappy with his position on immigration and his performance in the debate. cain is someone that resonated with a lot of republican voters but even the delegates i talked to did not think they were going to be with him in the long haul. he's a none of the above candidate.

    >> do you get a sense of any momentum? you're there in orlando, you waf the latest debate. where do you think the momentum lies?

    >> the momentum, you know, we have a slow and steady candidate, mitt romney , the tortoise. rick perry as the hare. he jumped into the race and got to the top of the polls. he has stalled some. i think we're waiting to see the next couple of debates. one in new hampshire on october 11th to see whether rick perry can recover. rick perry has a lot of strengths. he connects well with audiences. he has a long history. the nation's senior serving governor. he does have some harm to repair on the immigration stance and looking a little more self-confident and informed on issues in the next debate.

    >> who do you think will be the first to drop out?

    >> you know, i don't see why anyone would drop out at this point. because we're seeing even candidates with no money like newt gingrich can give speeches, get a little attention. with the field in such flux, why should somebody drop out now when it's possible lightning could strike on them? the race isn't settled. we is see a lot of fluidity. i don't think anybody will drop out in the long term.

    >> as long as you don't

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