Michelle Obama, 'The Closer,' To Hit the Campaign Trail

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

Nicknamed “the closer” by her husband in the 2008 presidential campaign, Mrs. Obama will try to keep up her nickname as she hits the campaign trail starting October 13th in the lead up to the midterm elections.

The First Lady will campaign – and raise money at fundraisers -- for Senator Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, Alexi Giannoulias, Representative Debbie Halvorson, Dan Seals, and Bill Foster in Illinois, Senator Michael Bennet in Colorado, Senator Patty Murray in Washington, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Barbara Boxer in California. Additionally she will speak at two fundraising dinners for the Women’s Leadership Forum within the DNC in New York and California.

“She was eager to do what she could be useful in the midterm elections,” a senior administration official said on a conference call with reporters this afternoon, “this is something that she cared about and that’s why she’s getting out there.”

Three variables were taken into consideration in determining where and when she would campaign: her official duties as First Lady, her children’s schedule, and what races were the best use of her time.

“This was where we thought she could be most effective and useful in the run-up to the election,” an administration official said.

Expect Mrs. Obama to echo themes she spoke about when she campaign for her husband in the 2008 presidential election.

“She comes to this as a mom and that’s the lens through which she sees the world and that is her test for every issue -- what it means to her daughters and all of our kids,” an administration official said, “One thing I think she can bring a perspective to and help shine a light on is you know what it is that this president is fighting for, and what this president is fighting for along with you know democratic senators.”

Additionally she will highlight the change that the country has seen under her husband’s administration and Democratic control.

“She will talk about how the country is beginning to turn a corner in terms of strengthening the middle class and putting in place strong reform,” the administration official said citing health care reform, work-family balance issues, credit card legislation, and benefits for veterans and military families.”

Don’t expect Mrs. Obama to attack Republicans on the stump. Aides insisted that she will advocate for specific candidates, and talk about the progress made in the country over the last two years, not directly target Republicans.

“When she went out on the campaign trail in 2008 it wasn’t to attack Republicans it was to advocate to her husband and what her husband’s presidency will mean to the future of the country. I think it will be it very similar this time. She is campaigning to advocate. To, you know, rally voters behind specific candidates based on what we can do together to build a better future.”

The First Lady’s schedule – as of now – is primarily fundraisers for the candidates. While aides did not rule out adding more tradition campaign and get-out-the-vote rallies later on, they say that it was easier to plan for fundraising events.

“Often times the First Lady doesn’t travel on weekends and it’s hard to put together big rallies in the middle of workdays, but it is easier to put together fundraiser events, whether it’s a lunch or a dinner, that’s the big reason there are a lot of fundraising events” administration official said.

The First Lady’s office disputed that charge that her schedule is skimpy, insisting that it reflects the balance that the she needed and is similar to the level of campaigning that First Lady’s have done in years past.

“This schedule is balance of what is already on her schedule, her official events, the considerations of her children and what we believe is the best and most effective use of the First Lady in the run-up to the election.

The First lady’s office says it is likely that additional events will be added to her schedule – in particular definitely in the final week before Election Day as a “closing effort.”

-Sunlen Miller

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