Her senior adviser is taking over day-to-day duties as she slips to the position of "third candidate."
Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann takes the stage during a Labor Day question and answer forum at the Columbia Metropolitican Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina, Monday, September 5, 2011. Other Republican candidates included Hernan Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.
As her poll numbers dip, Michele Bachmann is making some major changes in her presidential campaign management.
The Minnesota congresswoman’s manager, Ed Rollins, is stepping back from day-to-day duties, and senior adviser Keith Nahigian is taking over as interim campaign manager, her campaign said after that news was first reported by Politico. Her deputy campaign manager, David Polyansky, is moving on, the Star Tribune also learned.
In a statement, Bachmann put a positive spin on the move. She said she is "fortunate to retain [Rollins'] valuable advice even though his health no longer permits him to oversee the day-to-day operations of the campaign," and she is confident Nahigian can lead her campaign to a "strong finish in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and across the country."
The major changes come as Bachmann's shooting star has been a bit tarnished since her first-place finish in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll of Republicans three weeks ago.
A new poll shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who jumped into the race the same day she won the preference poll of Iowa GOP activists, trumping her with likely Iowa caucus-goers.
The poll, from Rasmussen, shows Perry with 29 percent and Bachmann and Mitt Romney with 18 and 17 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, a Fox News poll has Bachmann in third, with 8 percent, among announced candidates. But she was at the top (with 18 percent) as "too extreme to be seriously considered." In that poll, 35 percent said none of the candidates was too extreme and 22 percent of those polled said they didn't know.
Even Rollins, a veteran campaign strategist, admitted things do not look as good as they once did. In a piece published Monday in the Washington Post, he said: "The Perry-Romney race is now the story, with us the third candidate."
He said with Congress going back into session, Bachmann again has an opportunity to make her case against overspending.
In officially announcing the staff changes at the top, Bachmann's campaign also said it was undergoing a strategy change. The campaign referred to the shakeup as a planned restructuring strategy to expand its focus on winning the Iowa caucuses and early primary states.
Since the mid-August straw poll win, Bachmann has spent time in Iowa, Florida and South Carolina, all early voting states. She has not visited New Hampshire and has gotten some local criticism for ignoring that early state.
This week, Bachmann will join other GOP presidential hopefuls in the first of a series of debates in key states.
On Wednesday, she will attend the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation debate in Simi Valley, Calif. She canceled some other campaign events in California because the day after the debate, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress.
Gary Aminoff, of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, said about 60 people had signed up for a breakfast meet and greet with Bachmann before it was canceled.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @rachelsb