thetimes.co.uk/Fearful Democrats send for First Lady

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SHAFAQNA – Her husband may be about the last person any Democrat wants to be seen with on the campaign trail this year but Michelle Obama is in demand.
With President Obama slumping in the opinion polls and the Democrats desperately trying to hold on to the Senate in November’s mid-terms, the First Lady is being deployed to drum up cash and support.
She has already appeared in Atlanta this month at a fundraising event for a Democrat candidate locked in a tight Senate race.
And Mrs Obama will go to the knife-edge state of Iowa in October, in a race that could determine overall control of Congress. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, is up against a Republican candidate, Joni Ernst, whose campaign has been defined by the boast: “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.”
Democrats dread losing control of the Senate because Mr Obama would face a hostile Congress for the final two years of his presidency. With Republicans needing a swing of just six seats, his fate hangs in the balance.
Mr Obama does not dare appear in states such as Colorado, Louisiana, Alaska and Iowa where races are tight — the fear is that grassroots Republicans will feel more energised to get out and vote on November 4 if the man they dislike stands alongside the Democrat candidate in their state.
Bud Jackson, a Democrat strategist, said: “You look around at the advertising in some of the battleground Senate races and they are a good indication of the president’s low favourability — Republicans are trying to wrap the president around incumbent Democrats’ necks. Clearly, there is a national ‘guilt by association’ strategy.
“The First Lady, on the other hand doesn’t have the baggage that her husband does, she’s pretty favourable, fairly well liked.”
So far, she has turned up to make speeches and appearances at fundraising events in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington and Atlanta.
For small round-table events, groups of Democrat donors pay up to $32,400 (£19,800) to hear her at close quarters and have their picture taken. At bigger events where she makes a speech to an audience of up to 250 Democrats, tickets start at $500 and donations of up to $20,000 per couple are encouraged.
Mrs Obama bluntly told an audience in Chicago: “We need you to write the biggest, fattest cheque that you can possibly write.”
Speaking in Washington DC last week, she warned Democrats to guard against complacency if they wanted her husband to have the chance to make the changes he was elected to deliver.
“Make no mistake about it, Barack’s last campaign was not in 2012. Barack’s last campaign is this year, 2014 . . . we don’t have to convince anybody new, we just have to find us and get us out to vote,” she said.
A new survey yesterday from the pollster Rasmussen said only 27 per cent of all voters believed it would help candidates in their state if the president came to campaign for them, while 39 per cent thought a visit would hurt the candidates.

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