Tonight's GOP debate will mark the first time Michele Bachmann has gone into the fray this election season without Ed Rollins, the veteran political hand who was credited with imposing a certain useful discipline onto the campaign. Bachmann will surely be relying on some of Rollins's training, but her new right-hand man is Nahigian — whose best-known political contribution to date was contributing to Dan Quayle's famous "potatoe" gaffe:
"What are we supposed to do?’’ I asked Keith Nahigian, the advance man who had prepared this little photo op,’’ Quayle wrote.
"Just sit there and read these words off some flash cards, and the kids will go up and spell them at the blackboard,’’ the handler told the VP.
"Has anyone checked the card?’’ another aide asked.
"Oh, yeah,’’ responded Nahigian. "We looked at them and they’re just very simple words. No big deal.’’
Then, of course, when a child in the classroom spelled potato correctly, Quayle checked his card, and told him. "You’re close, but you left a little something off. The e on the end."
Now, this was twenty years ago, and Nahigian has accomplished a great deal since then and built a successful political communications consultancy. It is quite unfair for pundits and bloggers to snikcer about his youthful mitsakes. We all make thm.
But truly, this is the sort of thing that might be a liability on another campaign. For Bachmann, though, it's almost the reverse. She's gaffe-prone; he's battle-tested. Sure, her campaign is tanking a bit, and Nahigian's just been tossed a bit of a hot potatoe, but that's nothing he hasn't seen before.