Danger! Danger in the campaigns! After nearly all of her New Hampshire primary campaign staff quit, Michele Bachmann became the ONLY Republican running for president who filed her papers for the NH primary via Pony Express, aka "the mail." But she's not the only GOPer lacking staff these days. Godfather Pizza man and gospel music superstar Herman Cain is the unwilling star of a New York Times story this Thursday where his ex-aides claim the "Cain Train" is a hot mess of un-CEO-like disorganization.
First up: What went wrong, Michele-My-Not-Belle? Well, apparently it was that vote of "no confidence" the New Hampshire team had in Bachmann's national staff that did it. The NH crew hadn't received a pay check in a month and no one would tell them if they would ever be returned to the payroll.
From The Los Angeles Times:
All is not well in the Bachmann camp, as the letter released Monday made clear.
The ex-staffers took pains to refute the spin by Bachmann’s national staff that there had been no walkout, saying “it should be clear that the entire N.H. team has departed.” The ex-staffers also said they have no confidence in Bachmann’s national campaign team.
The staffers also said that because of financial troubles within Bachmann’s campaign, they had not been paid in over a month and had gotten no word from her national staff whether they could return to the payroll.
And they suggested that Bachmann’s campaign had given New Hampshire the short shrift.
“The manner in which some in the national team conducted themselves towards Team-NH was rude, unprofessional, dishonest, and at times cruel. 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 wrote.
“Through all this chaos, Team-NH was never involved in the shifting strategy discussions. 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 Congressman Bachmann, often at peril to their own personal and professional reputations within New Hampshire.”
As for Cain, some former staffers of his took their gripes to The New York Times, claiming Cain spent more time on his book tour in the South, than working to get votes in early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire. They also said major campaign donors were mishandled and potential voters were often ignored. But the biggest dig was that Cain, who touts himself as a CEO professional, was "ambivalent" when it came time to making decisions about "basic campaign management, which led to problems in hiring, scheduling, fund-raising and messaging."
From The New York Times:
Some former aides said they had longed to see the problem-solving side of Mr. Cain, or to see Mr. Cain at all. Over the spring and summer, he did not spend much time with workers. He did not plan conference calls or staff meetings and was given to changing his mind about appearances, sometimes with little notice, a tendency that angered his field workers.
“It was frustrating because we couldn’t get him here as much as I was led to believe he was going to be here,” said Kevin Hall, who worked for Mr. Cain in Iowa in June.
“Everything we tried to do was like pulling teeth to get accomplished,” said a former staff member in Iowa, who asked for anonymity. “I’ve never been involved in a job that was as frustrating as this one. We couldn’t get an answer on anything. Everything was fly by the seat of your pants.”
Also, there was that pesky book tour!
“When I found out about the book in June, I thought, ‘Are you kidding?’ ” said the same aide who found the e-mail troubling.
“That approach alienated some of his former staffers,” said Chris Buck, an unaffiliated Republican strategist in New Hampshire who said he considered working for the Cain campaign earlier this year, but changed his mind. “I think everybody was bewildered.”
And lastly, this gem:
Setting up offices was also something of a trial. “When I told people, ‘You’ll be getting offices and phone lines,’ I’d have to postpone that,” the former staff member in Iowa said. “It was like they were running for sophomore class president.”
Mr. Hall added, “We couldn’t even get our own e-mail addresses,” for the campaign.
Whew! It's hard work running an imaginary presidential campaign that will never make it!
Both Bachmann and Cain were initially successful in generating their hype machines, both in the press and (somewhat) on the ground. But the ground game is rapidly evaporating for them. And while I believe on some level Bachmann thought she had come to stay (as evidenced by the fact that SHE DID scrub it up, working hard to lose the "space cadet" label by getting slightly more polished in her TV interviews and debates), Cain planned a book tour in the middle of the lead up to Iowa.
Priorities. He doesn't have them.
Although, I do think Cain started feeling pretty good about himself when he won the Florida straw poll. He momentarily toyed with seriousness, but it didn't last. He still thought he could continue to get by on a few jokes and a grin when much, much more is demanded of you once you get that front-runnerstatus.
Case in point: Mitt Romney may be a terrible "try-hard" and Rick Perry may be digging around for failed RNC campaign ideas from the 90s, but both are dancing as hard as they can for votes. They are fighting to be "clear" while still giving themselves some general election wiggle room. They're not going to botch something crucial like their abortion stance. They're not going to pretend like international relations isn't important when you're running for a job that involves hanging out with the Prime Minister of England and overseeing several conflicts in countries with difficult to pronounce names.
Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan doesn't cut it when you have terrorism fears, unknown fall out from the Arab Spring, a Greek economy collapsing, a weakened faith in the Euro (and to a lesser extent, the European Union) and drug war in Mexico. Pride in your own ignorance only works when you're trying to impress your fellow ignoramuses. Strangely, the American public does like their president to occasionally know what he or she should be doing.
Hence why Bachmann applied some much needed spit shine to her usual word vomit. Why Cain thought he could be less than BACHMANN on foreign policy is beyond me. We haven't reached that point in equality where a woman or a black man can be woefully below average and still get elected president of the United States. I know conservatives try to make it seem like Obama is a dummy from Dumbtown, USA, but you don't edit the Harvard Law Review or work as a Constitutional Law Professor because you're an imbecile. If anything, Obama's problem was always that he was too cerebral (*cough* uppity Negro *cough*) and alienated the mouth-breathers.
But nobody wants to actually elect a mouth breather president! Unless he comes from Blue Blood stock and his daddy was a former President, Vice President, CIA head, war hero and son of a U.S. senator. That's a lot of credibility by last name recognition that neither Bachmann or Cain have.
Hence why this reality of campaign staffs in chaos will be their undoing. While only one person gets to be president at a time, it takes a team to get to the White House. And if people are begging to get off your team instead of fighting to stay on it, it's time to wake up and realize you're the losing team.