The 'other' Obama in the campaign spotlight
May 29th, 2013
03:42 PM ET
9 years ago

The 'other' Obama in the campaign spotlight

(CNN) - On the day that her husband keynotes a major fundraiser for House Democrats, first lady Michelle Obama is also flexing her fundraising muscles.

While President Barack Obama travels to their hometown of Chicago to keynote Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee events, the first lady headed to Boston to help bring in the bucks for the party's Senate candidate in next month's special election in Massachusetts. From Boston, Michelle Obama moved on to New York City, headlining two events for the Democratic National Committee.

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The first lady is a major draw on the campaign trail. And as the 2014 midterm election cycle heats up, she may reprise the role she played in the 2010 midterms and in both of her husband's presidential campaigns.

"The president nicknamed the first lady 'the Closer' during the 2008 campaign because after crowds heard his vision for the country she'd close with an emotional appeal that brought their support over the finish line," says Democratic strategist Ben LaBolt, who served as national press secretary for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign.

"The same could be said of her ability to fundraise. There has always been a huge demand - from candidates, donors and activists - for the first lady to appear at their events," adds LaBolt, who also worked on Obama's 2008 campaign and in the Obama White House.

In Boston, the first lady was the main attraction for a fundraiser for Rep. Ed Markey, the Democratic nominee in next month's special election to fill the final year and a half of the term of longtime Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who stepped down earlier this year to become U.S. secretary of state. The event brought in some $600,000 for Markey, according to campaign and Democratic Party officials.

"My husband can't do it alone," Obama said, according to a pool report of the fundraiser. "He absolutely needs folks like Ed Markey in the Senate to make it happen."

"Keep writing those checks. And if you haven't maxed out, max out!" asked Obama, who also added "Remember all of those times when I've asked you to have my husband's back. This is one of those back-having times, right now."

Freshman Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was also at the event, and praised Obama as she introduced the first lady.

"I love Michelle Obama. She's a real fighter. Just take a look at those biceps," Warren said to laughter.

(The first lady also visited victims of April's marathon bombing while in Boston)

In New York City, the first lady was scheduled to headline a high dollar private reception for the DNC. Next stop for Obama was a DNC lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender event. Collins is the NBA player who recently announced he was gay.

While the first lady can light up a crowd, some Republicans question how effective she or any other big name Democrat can be in a cycle that may favor the GOP.

"There's no doubt Michelle Obama will play a helpful role in raising money for the Democrats this cycle, but her presence on the campaign trail will have no bearing on the election results come November 2014," says Republican strategist Brian Walsh, who served as communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2010 and 2012 cycles.

Filed under: Fundraising • Michelle Obama • President Obama
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Tony D

    Who is paying for all of this Democrat fund raising travel of the Obama's? Are the Democrats reimbursing our empty treasury for all of these expenses? It has to run into the millions given all the security and people invloved.

    May 29, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Somewhere out there is one of the slimy, bigoted coakroaches crawling over the keys of their computer crafting hatelul comments about the First Lady. It will be some moronic comment based only in hate and prejudice – no facts. Here we go...

    May 29, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    Tony D

    Who is paying for all of this Democrat fund raising travel of the Obama's?


    The people who invited them, just like the rethugs pay for their speakers/guests. Did you REALLY NOT know that?

    May 29, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. yikes run for cover

    "I love Michelle Obama. She's a real fighter. Just take a look at the size of her backside," Warren said to laughter.

    Now that wasn't nice!

    May 29, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Who is paying for all of this Democrat fund raising travel of the Obama's? Are the Democrats reimbursing our empty treasury for all of these expenses?"

    Bush first, then we'll talk. He did the same did all POTUS's and FLOTUS's before him...and you had no freekin issue with it until some black people "stole" your 'white people country" and you started throwing a tantrum about needing to "take it back."

    May 29, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. ladyjag

    We definitely need more DEMOCRATS in CONGRESS, apparently they are the people with some brains. THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS SO FULL OF STUPID, they don't know what to do.

    May 29, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    He beat you to the punch Larry L.

    May 29, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. PJ

    @Tony D
    You sure are selective with who you criticize over "how much taxpayer money" is spent. This is why you
    and your ilk make no sense. When you face the realities of what has happened in the immediate past
    Administration and include that in your complaints, maybe somebody would listen. Up to now,
    you are just a Faux News echo machine.

    May 29, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. Marie MD

    @TonyD – maybe the money is being spent the same way that your little demi god Reagan spent it going to CA on vacations or those lavish Hollywood dinners at the WH.
    Or maybe Nixon, he was also from CA. Then we will forever be stuck with the shrub #43 who spent 1/3 of his "presidency" on vacation.
    Face it. Your rethugs can't win any fight because they've been there and done that and this and whatever they are so against on everything until they do it. Then it's okay.
    Thank goodness for Michelle Obama. Never have we had a more caring and down to earth first lady.

    May 29, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Wake up People!

    @yikes run for cover

    Michelle Obama has naturally what many women pay good money for. Even some melanin challenged ones are tired of having pancake rear ends.
    One thing about our FLOTUS, she can wear anything she wants and still look great.

    May 29, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    They're all chitown criminals.

    May 29, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |