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Michele Bachmann: Did her national staff bungle the N.H. campaign?

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Jeff Chiu/AP

(Read caption) Republican presidential candidate Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last Thursday.

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Communication is apparently not the strong suit of Michele Bachmann's campaign.

Communication – or the lack of it – is at the heart of why her entire New Hampshire staff quit en masse last week. Yet even information about the walkout didn't seem to reach the desks of her national staff, who apparently didn't get the memo and tried to claim that all was well.

Just to clear things things up, the five former New Hampshire staffers have now taken the unusual step of releasing a memo – to make clear that yes, this was a coordinated walkout, and no, they are not happy with their treatment by the national campaign, or by how that campaign treated New Hampshire residents.

"The manner in which some in the national team conducted themselves towards Team-NH was rude, unprofessional, dishonest, and at times cruel," the staff wrote in their press release. "But more concerning was how abrasive, discourteous, and dismissive some within the national team were towards many New Hampshire citizens. These are our neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated them more as a nuisance than as potential supporters."

They also clarified some matters around pay (which they haven't received since early September, when they were asked to "temporarily go off payroll," but which was apparently not the motivating factor for the departure). And, they said, their issues are with the national campaign, rather than with Ms. Bachmann herself.

"While they collectively felt loyalty to the candidate, they no longer have faith in the national team," the memo states, adding that this sentiment has been "building since June" and that they were repeatedly ignored and left out of strategy discussions until they felt irrelevant.

It's no secret that Bachmann has been throwing almost all her attention and resources at Iowa – the one state where she's had significant support – while she's largely ignored the Granite State. But the public nature of this blowup is hardly good news for what is already a flailing campaign.

Her campaign hit a high point when she won the Iowa straw poll in August, but since then, it's headed downhill. The most recent Real Clear Politics average has Bachmann below 5 percent, trailing Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

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And if communication within the campaign is a problem, communication with voters appears to be an issue as well.

Pundits have laughed about some of her gaffes – such as confusing actor John Wayne with serial killer John Wayne Gacy – but other misstatements are starting to pile up.

Most recently, she told voters in Iowa that "59,000 [illegal immigrants] came across the border ... from Yemen, from Syria. These are nations that are state sponsors of terror."

As the Los Angeles Times later reported in covering the event, Yemen is not, in fact, listed by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. And although 59,000 immigrants were apprehended from countries other than Mexico, just 663 were from countries with terrorism links.


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