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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Michelle Obama stumps for Feingold

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks in Milwaukee on Wednesday to fundraise for Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wis. She urged voters to ‘re-ignite their passion’ and keep the Democrats in power after the midterm election on Nov. 2. Feingold is running against businessman Ron Johnson for his seat.[/media-credit]

MILWAUKEE (AP) – First lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday that even though change hasn’t come fast enough for some people, it would be a mistake for voters to return Republicans to power next month.

Mrs. Obama, in Milwaukee to stump for Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, tried to restore the same enthusiasm that surrounded President Barack Obama’s inauguration early last year.

She said people were energized back then because they were hopeful, and that it was important for them to re-ignite their passion so the country can finish what voters started.


“This election isn’t just about all that we’ve accomplished these past couple of years,” she said. “This election, Wisconsin, is about all we have left to do in the months and years ahead.”

Feingold is facing an unexpected battle as he seeks a fourth term in the Senate. Recent polls show his Republican challenger, businessman Ron Johnson, with a slight lead.

Mrs. Obama lauded Feingold for supporting health care reform and campaign finance reform, and for fighting to create jobs and cut taxes.

She also touted Feingold’s maverick credentials, saying the president has mentioned how Feingold doesn’t always agree with him.

“So Russ, you and I have a little something in common,” she said, drawing laughter from the hundreds of supporters who paid $250 or $500 to attend the luncheon. A campaign spokesman said the event raised at least $250,000.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin released a statement saying Feingold can’t call himself an independent when he accepts fundraising help from Washington insiders.

“A parade of D.C. insiders probably isn’t the best tactic for a candidate trying to prove that he hasn’t ‘gone Washington’ over the last 18 years,” state GOP chairman Reince Priebus said.

The president led a rally last month in Madison to fire up supporters. Feingold initially said Senate work in Washington would prevent him from attending that event but eventually attended anyway, explaining he wrapped up his work in time to make the rally.

Obama also came to Milwaukee on Labor Day. Feingold skipped that appearance because he said he didn’t want to break a previous commitment to campaign at his hometown parade in Janesville.

Vice President Joe Biden has also stumped for Feingold.

The senator told supporters his campaign is looking up following two debates with Johnson in the past week. Feingold acknowledged that some “out-of-state” polls show him trailing but said his own polls show he has pulled ahead among likely voters.

“The race remains close, but we do have that momentum,” he said. Mrs. Obama’s appearance on the campaign trail this week is her first since 2008.

She also plans campaign stops in Illinois, Colorado, Washington, California and Connecticut. It’s not surprising that Democratic candidates want her support.

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that she is viewed favorably by 68 percent of adults, compared to 57 percent who have a positive view of the president. She is so popular that some candidates have expressed more excitement at the prospect of campaigning with her than with him.

Mrs. Obama focused on broad themes during her 24-minute speech Wednesday, from education and health care to tax cuts and support for military families.

However, her larger message was one of patience.

“I think that many of us came into this (Obama presidency) expecting to see all the change we talked about happen all at once, right away, the minute Barack walked into the Oval Office door,” she said. “But the truth is, it is going to take a longer time to dig ourselves out of this hole than any of us would like.”

She urged supporters to help turn out likeminded voters on Election Day. She also said it was important to restore the energy that propelled President Obama into the White House in 2008 on a message of hope and change.

“But my husband can’t do this alone,” she said. “…. He needs strong leaders like Russ to help him.”

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