News / USA

Michelle Obama Campaigns for Democrats in US Midterm Elections

First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event for Sen. Russ Feingold  in Milwaukee, 13 Oct 2010
First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event for Sen. Russ Feingold in Milwaukee, 13 Oct 2010
TEXT SIZE - +

As the U.S. midterm congressional elections grow nearer, President Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, is playing an increasingly important role campaigning for Democrats seeking to hold on to their seats in Congress.   Appearances by the first lady across the country are aimed at helping to re-energize enthusiasm among Democrats, particularly women and youth voters, before Americans go to the polls on November 2.

Though Democrats and the White house have drawn some encouragement from what appears to have been a slight narrowing in key election races, they still face the prospect of losing control of at least one chamber of Congress on November 2.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos survey found that Americans would vote for Republicans rather than Democrats by 48 to 44 percent.  That supports a scenario in which Republicans would win control of the House of Representatives.  In some key Senate races, Democrat's chances have improved, reducing the threat of a Republican takeover of the Senate.

President Obama also faces continuing generally high disapproval numbers nationally, focused on his handling of the economy.  Polls reflect concern voter concern about the 9.6 percent unemployment rate, and pessimism about the general direction of the country.

Into this picture steps First Lady Michelle Obama, making her first campaign appearances in two years.  She is being deployed to key states where Democrats face tight contests.   The first was in Wisconsin, to help Democrat Senator Russ Feingold hold on to his U.S. Senate seat.

"I think about how we all felt on [President Obama's] inauguration day," said Michelle Obama. "We were excited, we were energized, we were hopeful, we were fired up because we knew we had a chance to change the country we loved for the better."

Feingold asserted that he had pulled ahead in his race with Ron Johnson, a Republican businessman supported by the conservative Tea Party movement, though some polls show Johnson retaining a slight lead.

"As of this moment, I am no longer behind," exclaimed Russ Feingold. "I am no longer behind!   And I can tell you that as of this moment, I am actually beating Ron Johnson, with the voters most likely to vote!"

It remains to be seen how Michelle Obama's appearance will help Feingold and other Democrats.  She later went to Chicago, home town for the Obamas, to campaign for Alexi Giannoulias who is competing against a Republican for the president's former U.S. Senate seat.  

"He [President Obama] needs leaders like Alexi, right by his side," said Ms. Obama. "And we need folks like all of you to make that happen. "

Michelle Obama also went to Colorado on Thursday, and will be on the road again in coming days. An appearance with the president on Sunday at a Democratic event in Columbus, Ohio, will be the first time the two will campaign together since 2008, when Mr. Obama battled Republican John McCain for the presidency.

The White House calls the first lady an invaluable asset.  But aides emphasize she will not be wading deeply into the political thickets or get involved in day-to-day rhetorical battles with Republicans.  

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says she will employ her own personal story in her campaign appearances, and her sense of where Americans find themselves at this point.

"As she told during the 2008 election, she has got a story to tell about herself and her family and I think she will tell that story and what the [Obama] administration and some of these [Democratic] candidates have been able to do to help families that they represent," said Gibbs.

That approach, in which she incorporates Obama family experiences with the political message her husband and Democrats are trying to convey before November 2, was on display in Wisconsin.

Calling herself a "mom-in-chief" she connected what she called her first priority - making sure that the Obama's two daughters are "happy, healthy, and adjusting" to life in the White House - with challenges facing other American families.

"I come to this stuff [politics] more as a mom," she said. "And when I think about the issues that are facing our nation, I think about what it means for my girls.  I think about what it means for the world that we are going to leave behind for them, and quite frankly for all of our children.

In campaign stops, the first lady refers to her husband by his first name, Barack, and echoes the president when she tells audiences that despite steps he has taken to respond to recession, economic improvements have been slow and "change is hard."  

The 2008 campaign, Michelle Obama told voters in Wisconsin, was never about putting one man in the White House, but about "building a movement for change that lasts beyond one year and one campaign.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid