WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is planning to beef up the team surrounding his wife Michelle Obama, to give her the kind of professional campaign veterans experienced in rapid response to negative attacks – the kind of staff that is usually only seen around an actual candidate, according to a senior aide.
The move is meant to address concerns within the campaign that Michelle Obama will be the target of significant attacks from conservatives this year. Their pre-emptive response is a team that one aide says is unprecedented in presidential politics. According to multiple aides, this team will work with Mrs. Obama to modify her stump speech - in part to include more stories from the voters she met during the primary season - in a bid to counter criticism by some conservatives that she is out of touch.
Former Kerry campaign Communications Director Stephanie Cutter has already been tapped as Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff, and additional staff will be hired in the coming weeks.
Aides say they expect Mrs. Obama to make occasional campaign stops over the next several weeks - including roundtables with military wives, and a womens’ event next week – before hitting the trail full time around July 4.
Michelle Obama has already become a target on the Web, with ads and e-mail rumors that criticize her as unpatriotic, elitist, and angry.
But the campaign says Mrs. Obama is a net positive on the trail. For every conservative turned off by her message, they say, there are voters - especially women – who are drawn to her husband’s campaign, which describes her as the best surrogate he has.