Vulnerable Senate Dems wonder: Where's Michelle?
Senate Democrats fighting for their political lives are openly expressing displeasure at the first lady for not doing more to help them.
The president's numbers may be in the toilet, but Mrs. Obama is considered one of the most admired women in America and is generally well liked by the American people. And, of course, she could be a gold mine for fundraising if she left the White House to campaign for Democratic Senators.
But, so far, she is frustrating them.
Senate Democrats up for reelection in November are frustrated that First Lady Michelle Obama is not doing more to help them hold on to their seats.
With the exception of her husband, there are few figures in the Democratic Party who boast the kind of magnetism Obama possesses. Democrats have been publicly complaining about Obama for weeks, but their criticism and the media's spotlight on it hasn't changed her schedule. The election is now only 71 days away.
Her charisma — if she put it to use — could open a gusher of much-needed fundraising cash and produce an infusion of grassroots enthusiasm for Democrats who are fighting for their political lives.
But, so far, the first lady has been largely absent from the campaign trail. Embattled candidates can hear the clock ticking down to the midterms and are anxiously awaiting signs that she will emerge from the White House soon. They say they need her to put her shoulder to the wheel.
The grumbling about Obama’s reluctance to do so has grown even louder after former secretary of State Hillary Clinton — one of the only Democrats who can compete with the first lady in terms of star power — announced last week that she would be hosting a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser at her home in September.
The announcement prompted some Senate Democrats to draw a comparison with Obama and wonder when the latter would, as one put it, “show up” during this campaign cycle.
“What has she done?” one Democrat on Capitol Hill asked. “There’s nothing to point to.”
Another Democrat in a tight race was even more blunt.
“I don’t want to say she’s been M.I.A. but she’s been M.I.A.,” the person said.
The first lady’s defenders can point to the fact that she has appeared at several fundraisers throughout the year for the Democratic Party. She has sometimes used those occasions to take on Republicans over their criticisms of food nutrition standards she has worked to put in place.
Is she really that much of an asset? For the Democratic base, she most certainly is. But because she is a polarizing figure, her presence in a race also raises the heat among Republicans. Her nutrition standards are being resisted by not only children across America, but now school districts are rejecting them - and the federal dollars that go with them. Such controversy follows her wherever she goes.
But overall, because of her ability to raise megabucks, she is a plus for any Democrat's campaign.