Tags: Barack Obama | michelle | obama | campaign | trail | popularity

Michelle Obama's Political Power Handicapped by Her Last Name

By    |   Saturday, 04 October 2014 11:43 AM

First lady Michelle Obama is still a popular figure on the speech circuit, but she hasn't been active much on the campaign trail this election season, and the reason may be her last name.

"She's awesome, but it just brings in the name Obama," a Democratic strategist, who declined to be identified discussing the first lady, told The New York Times.

She has been making some appearances to rally voters in gubernatorial campaigns, including visits to Maine and Massachusetts Friday for rallies and Wisconsin both last week and later this month.

But she is limiting her travels, in comparison to Hillary Rodham Clinton's tours as first lady, who visited about 20 states in 1998.

Her husband is unpopular in many of the Senate battleground states, which lean Republican, and Democratic candidates are concerned that her presence could connect them with her husband and push potential voters away.

She did campaign in Georgia for Democrat Senate candidate Michelle Nunn,  who will need to attract more female and African-American voters to win the November election.

However, Obama will not visit Arkansas, Louisiana, or North Carolina, three competitive
states that could determine whether Democrats will keep control of the Senate, reports The Times. She is to lead a rally on Oct. 23, though, for incumbent Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

Just before Obama's appearance in Milwaukee, campaign workers for Democratic candidate Mary Burke walked through crowds waiting to get in to see her in an attempt to draw out voters.

"The biggest fear of the Republican Party is high turnout,” said volunteer Joan Zeiger, 71. Obama is "black, she’s a woman, and we think that’s a double-whammy," she continued.

The first lady enjoys a national approval rating of around 60 percent, compared to her husband's 40 percent rating. He has largely stayed off the campaign trail this election cycle.

M.C. González Noguera, Michelle Obama's communications director, said she has met all requests to appear and sees her role as "one of the key people in this administration who is out there getting people to organize and vote.”

In addition to Nunn and Udall, Reps. Gary Peters of Michigan and Bruce Braley of Iowa are to get visits from the first lady, who has recorded radio ads for Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peters.

And the administration insists her limited appearances were not the result of a long-running struggle with Senate Democrats to get them to stop Republican efforts against her school lunch nutrition efforts.

Obama was especially angry when 11 Democrats from potato-growing states signed onto a letter opposing the fact that potatoes are excluded from the foods on the Women, Infants, and Children list, reports The Times.

But Democrats say she understands what will happen if they lose the Senate, and she will help with campaign efforts.

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First lady Michelle Obama is still a popular figure on the speech circuit, but he hasn't been active much on the campaign trail this election season, and the reason may be her last name.
michelle, obama, campaign, trail, popularity
Saturday, 04 October 2014 11:43 AM
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