Pitching for the Party; Michelle Obama Hits the Campaign Trail

First lady Michelle Obama will jump into the political fray next month when she heads on a multi-state campaign tour for mid-term election candidates. Mrs. Obama will hit California, Wisconsin, Illlinois, Colorado, New York, and Washington state before the month expires.

Her aides say she will not stop there-- she'll be pitching for the party up until the very last week of the campaign. However, aides say her schedule that week has not yet been formulated.

The first lady won't be getting down and dirty in her message. When asked if Mrs. Obama would trot out any of the same driving-the-economy-into-a-ditch analogies her husband uses to deride Republicans, aides said flat-out, "no." Staffers say, as in 2008 when she backed her husband's candidacy, she will avoid direct aim at Republicans, sticking to backing the candidate at-hand.

Her office believes the first lady can be a powerful pitchster. She doesn't carry the baggage of a commander-in-chief down in the polls but her proximity to power is tangible enough for some candidates.

California Senator and candidate for re-election Barbara Boxer is one of them. Moments after the news was made public that the first lady would hit the trail on her behalf at an October 27 Los Angeles event, Boxer Campaign Manager Rose Kapolczynski released a statement saying, "We're thrilled that in the closing days of the campaign, the First Lady will be coming to California to campaign with us and urge Californians to go to the polls."

In her remarks, the first lady will discuss middle America-type issues like hidden credit card fees and what it's like to be a woman trying to balance work and family. She'll also tow the administration line on what matters most to the electorate-- the economy. Officials say, "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 reforms."

Mrs. Obama's office says she did receive other candidate requests for her appearance, but they wouldn't say how many.When challenged by reporters on whether Mrs. Obama was playing it safe in the races she chose to get involved in, officials bristled. "This schedule is a balance of what is already on her schedule for 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." A senior official added that her schedule is in line with what previous first ladies have done.

All of the events announced by the first lady's office so far are fundraisers. Policy events will be added in California. However, her office says there will be no meshing of the two; a political no-no. That's not to say Mrs. Obama won't be touching on causes near and dear to her, such as ending childhood obesity. Aides say Mrs. Obama was eager to get involved in the campaign. As to how much she is expected to raise, that depends on what the candidates decide to charge donors.

Here is the full release of the first lady's schedule thus far (as we mentioned, aides say we're likely to see more events added in the future.):

Wednesday, October 13 - Travel to Milwaukee, WI, and Chicago, IL

Fundraising events for US Senator Russ Feingold

Fundraising event for Alexi Giannoulias, candidate for US Senate

Fundraising event for US Representative Debbie Halvorson, Dan Seals, and Bill Foster


Thursday, October 14 - Travel to Denver, CO

Fundraising Luncheon for US Senator Michael Bennet

Monday, October 18 - Travel to New York, NY

Fundraising Dinner for the Women's Leadership Forum


Monday, October 25: Travel to Seattle, WA, and San Francisco, CA

Fundraising events for US Senator Patty Murray

Fundraising event for Speaker Nancy Pelosi


Tuesday, October 26: Los Angeles, CA

Fundraising Dinner for the Women's Leadership Forum


Wednesday, October 27: Los Angeles, CA

Fundraising events for US Senator Barbara Boxer