Michelle Obama travels to New England to boost Democrats

Two Democrats running for governor of their respective New England states are hoping for a boost from Michelle Obama as the first lady makes political stops in Massachusetts and Maine.

Obama's first stop on Friday will be the Strand Theater in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, where she is scheduled to highlight a rally for state Attorney General Martha Coakley. Recent polls indicate that Coakley is locked in a tight race with Republican Charlie Baker, a former health insurance company executive, to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election. Three independent candidates also are running.

Coakley's campaign has focused heavily on appealing to women voters who make up more than half of the state's electorate. Earlier this week, she introduced a plan that called for expanding access to financial capital for women-owned businesses and closing the gap between what men and women earn in wages.

Coakley said she was excited to campaign with Obama and admired the first lady's work on issues affecting children and families.

"She's been a great voice for kids, for healthy diets, for making sure that kids get a good education," said Coakley.

Later Friday, Obama was scheduled to attend a rally at the University of Maine in Orono on behalf of Democratic congressman Mike Michaud, who is seeking to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, also is scheduled to attend. The organization is spending heavily in Maine in an attempt to oust LePage and has criticized the incumbent for actions such as vetoing a bill that would have provided more low-income women with access to birth control, cancer screening and other services.

Independent candidate Eliot Cutler also is in the race.