09/05/2011 09:43 pm ET | Updated Nov 05, 2011

Bachmann campaign manager, deputy stepping down

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann's campaign manager, Ed Rollins, and his deputy are leaving their roles, Bachmann's campaign said on Monday, adding Rollins would remain in a less physically demanding senior advisory position.

"In less than 50 days and with fewer resources than other campaigns, Ed was the architect that led our campaign to a historic victory in Iowa," Bachmann said in a statement, referring to that state's Republican straw poll.

"I am grateful for his guidance and leadership, and fortunate to retain his valuable advice even though his health no longer permits him to oversee the day-to-day operations of the campaign."

Bachmann, a representative from Minnesota, moved into the top tier of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination last month with her win in the Iowa straw poll, an early test of strength in the 2012 race.

"I have great affection for her. I'll do anything I can to help her," Rollins, 68, a veteran of many political campaigns told CNN. "I just don't have the endurance to do 14-hour days, seven days a week anymore."

As part of a "restructuring strategy," current campaign strategist Keith Nahigian will assume the role of interim campaign manager, Bachmann said in her statement.

Bachmann's views, heated rhetoric and fiery attacks on President Barack Obama have won her fans among conservative activists and donors. She was one of the first elected officials to court the Tea Party, a loosely organized conservative activist movement.

Rollins conceded that Texas Governor Rick Perry's entry into the Republican race slowed Bachmann's momentum. Perry, who is also popular with social and religious conservatives, rose swiftly to the top of opinion polls among Republicans since entering the race last month.

"Legitimately, it's a (Mitt) Romney-Perry race," Rollins told CNN. I think she's (Bachmann) the third candidate at this point in time, which is way different and better than we thought when we started this thing and she's very much in this thing."


Deputy campaign manager David Polyansky was also stepping down, said Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman, Kent Sorenson.

Sorenson said Polyansky had signed on to the campaign to help with the straw poll effort in Iowa.

"That is a major shake-up," said Craig Robinson, Iowa Republican website founder and editor. "It's her top two guys on her national campaign."

Asked if Polyansky's departure involved strategic differences with the candidate, Rollins told CNN, "There's no strategic differences in the sense of what we should be doing or saying -- it's just a question of how you use your time, how you use your resources."

(Additional reporting by Todd Melby; Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Todd Eastham)