Michelle Obama in Chicago to raise cash for Dems

October 13, 2010 (CHICAGO)

With an approval rating 20 percent higher than her husband's, Democrats have been drooling at the chance to get Michelle Obama to campaign on their behalf. Especially in close races in traditionally Democratic leaning states like Illinois.

The first event was at the University Club in Chicago.

Describing herself as a reluctant campaigner, the "mom-in-chief" has been pressed into fundraising duty for the first time since her husband's campaign. In Milwaukee Wednesday afternoon, the first lady leveraged her 65 percent approval rating to help Senator Russ Feingold.

"We all believe basic things," Obama said. "If you get sick you should be able to go to the doctor. And if you work hard you should make a decent wage and have a secure retirement."

"You'd be shocked at how much people want to see the first lady. I'm not going to say anything about the president, but they're really excited about the first lady," said Alexi Giannoulias, (D) U.S. Senate candidate.

Tickets for the first lady's fundraiser for Alexi Giannoulias Wednesday evening are said to be selling for $250 a head more than President Obama commanded when he was in Chicago last week.

Vice President Joe Biden's rally for Governor Quinn Tuesday was free.

The fact that Illinois Democrats need such help in the President's home state isn't lost on the candidates.

"I think we all know what's happening. Russ Feingold is in trouble in Wisconsin. It's a different environment," said Giannoulias.

"Every vote counts. Everybody has to be there, and that's what the message is: regardless of party, don't forget your obligation as a voter," said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois.

The latest poll still shows the Senate race between Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk to be dead even.

The goal for Michelle Obama is not necessarily to bring in new votes, but get Democratic donor to open their wallets in a year that has many of them a bit demoralized.

Next Tuesday, October 19, ABC 7 and the League of Woman Voters will host a debate with the major candidates in the race for the U.S Senate. It will air on ABC 7 at 10:35 p.m. You can also watch it live at 7 p.m. on our digital channel, 7.2. That also airs on RCN channel 618, Comcast channel 217, and channel 219 on Wide Open West. It will also stream live on abc7chicago.com

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