Bachmann and Rollins parting ways?

There were more than a few “new breed” conservatives, tired of establishment practices, who rolled their eyes when Michele Bachmann initially signed Ed Rollins on to her campaign. But for all the doubters, Ed did seem to help instill a sense of discipline and focus in the campaign, along with an avoidance of self-inflicted wounds, which at least temporarily pushed the congresswoman into frontrunner status. But it seems that the relationship may be coming to an end.

Ed Rollins is going to be stepping back from day-to-day management of the Michele Bachmann campaign, and moving into a senior advisory role, he said in an interview.

Rollins said the reason for the change is personal — his health and the rigors of a campaign.

“I wish I was 40 years old, but I’m not,” he told POLITICO. “I’m 68 years old, I had a stroke a year and a half ago. I’m worn out.”

The change is coming just as Bachmann is entering a new phase of the race, searching for the right way forward against the Rick Perry juggernaut, which has sucked away the oxygen since her Ames Straw Poll win.

Rollins insisted this represents a change of schedule but not his commitment to Bachmann.

Were I a bit more cynical I would point out that resigning – or “changing your status” in this fashion – for “health reasons” is only slightly less popular than, “spending more time with your family.” But in this case I think we have to give the benefit of the doubt. The man did have a stroke, after all, and he’s not exactly a spring chicken any more.

But it’s hard to imagine that these are the only reasons. For example, it’s somewhat unusual for a “senior adviser” to a presidential campaign to go on CNN and proclaim that the election is now essentially a horse race between Romney and Perry. In fact, at this point, if I were Michele Bachmann I’d probably be taking another look at whether Rollins should be drawing a paycheck at all.

So who steps in to fill that void? Any guesses? Should Bachmann go to some in-house talent or begin shopping around to pluck staffers away from other candidates who have either already left (T-Paw) or those teetering on the edge of an exit? (Santorum?)