Michelle Obama will go on the campaign trail this fall to help the Democrats retain their majorities in the House and Senate. But will the kerfuffle over her recent trip to Spain make her efforts less effective?
Peter Nichols of the LA Times writes that the First Lady will observe a relatively light campaign schedule, and that she won't do any mudslinging or make heavily partisan speeches. But the fact that she's campaigning at all, he says, "is an indication of just how worried the White House is about losing seats in the fall, when control of the House and possibly the Senate is up for grabs." Republican pollster John McLaughlin concurs, saying, "It shows they're willing to use all the political capital they can to defend [their majorities]. If this is a chess board, they're putting their queen in play."
Queen Marie Antoinette, that is. That's who one blogger compared her to during her recent trip to Spain, because she was supposedly sticking the taxpayers with an enormous bill. The White House has said that she paid for her own flight and hotel room, but that hasn't stopped her approval ratings from dropping, possibly as a result of the trip. So is Michelle Obama's support just going to make Democratic candidates look like a bunch of elitist Spain-lovers?
According to Nichols, all signs point to no:
Dana Perino, a former press secretary to President George W. Bush, said she was surprised by the criticism the trip received from liberals, the Obama family's base of support. Perino said she didn't expect a prolonged backlash, though. "People have short memories," she said.
Nichols also says Democrats aren't worried — according to one strategist, "She's at the very top of people's want list." Frankly, voters should have short memories of her Spain trip — if they remember it at all. Claims of its cost the taxpayers were exaggerated, and the original post criticizing it was tainted with xenophobia (why, its author wondered, didn't Obama vacation in California, which is just as nice and not foreign?). The more Michelle Obama can talk about issues that actually matter, the stupider those "Marie Antoinette" jabs will look — and the more we can all focus on the country's real crises, rather than what the First Lady wore while she was sightseeing.
Michelle Obama To Enter Campaign Fray [LA Times]