Posts Tagged Elizabeth Warren

Senator Bernie Sanders Declares He Is Running For President And Will Challenge Hillary

Bernie SandersThe independent Vermont senator told the Associated Press in a story published Wednesday that he plans to run for the Democrats’ 2016 presidential nomination. The news was confirmed by multiple Sanders aides.

“I am running for president,” he told the Associated Press.

“People should not underestimate me,” Sanders told the AP. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.”

Sanders caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but is an unlikely candidate for the Democratic nomination, primarily because he has never been a registered member of the party and calls himself a “democratic socialist.”

Yet many of his views fit with the Democratic left, a constituency in which Sanders has found a small yet devout following. Sanders and his top advisers hope that group of voters will propel his dark horse candidacy. Though Hillary Clinton is the dominant frontrunner, many in the progressive left of the party think she’s too moderate and are clamoring for a different candidate to support.

Sanders will outline his presidential plans further on Thursday when he holds a press conference in Washington. Sanders’ campaign advisers said that while their candidate has announced his plans to run, he won’t hold his first campaign rally until May. That event is expected to be in Vermont.

Sanders is an outspoken critic of Wall Street banks and the outsized influence of money in politics and is a supporter of universal health care. He regularly talks about the need to rebuild the middle class and raise taxes on America’s highest earners.

“At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country which is based on ability to pay,” Sanders said last month in Washington. “It is not acceptable that a number of major profitable corporations have paid zero in federal income taxes in recent years, and that millionaire hedge fund managers often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than the truck drivers or nurses.”

In interviews before his campaign announcement, Sanders said trade, income inequality and health care would be key tenants of his run. But despite having vocal liberal supporters on these issues, Sanders is a dark horse candidate and has acknowledged that his run will be uphill.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Sanders moved to Vermont after graduating from the University of Chicago. His first successful run for office came in 1981 when he was elected Burlington’s mayor by a mere 10 votes. He was elected as Vermont’s at-large member of Congress in 1990 and jumped to the Senate in 2007. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in congressional history.

Sanders does not have the personality of a typical politician. He is sometimes gruff and blunt, dispensing with social niceties and usually getting right to the point. He has come to be known as much for his fly-away hair as his passionate speeches in the Senate and has bluntly lamented the way political journalism in the United States focuses on personality.

He also starts with a small campaign infrastructure, largely the remnants of his past Senate runs, and is primarily being advised by Tad Devine, a Democratic political consultant who worked on the presidential campaign for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. At an event this month in New Hampshire where Sanders leaned heavily into a presidential bid, the signs outside the house party touted his 2012 Senate re-election bid.

From the outset of his campaign, it appears money will be Sander’s biggest issue. The senator has regularly conceded in the last month that he would not be able to raise near the money Clinton will bring in.

“To run a credible campaign in this day and age, you do need a whole lot of money,” Sanders said. “Whether the magic number is $200 million, it is $150 million, it is a lot of money, but even with that, you would be enormously outspent by the Koch Brother candidates and the other candidates who will likely spend, in the final analysis, over $1 billion, if not two.”

Despite being a champion for many on the left, Sanders has been somewhat left out in the cold by big liberal organizations like MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, who have spent the last few months unsuccessfully urging Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

“Obviously one would hope one would have as much support as possible from all walks of life,” Sanders said on Tuesday when asked why he thinks those groups aren’t rallying around him. “I am a great fan of Elizabeth and as for what people do and why they don’t do it, I am not going to speculate.”

Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, even mentioned Warren in touting Sanders’ jump into the race.

“MoveOn members welcome Sen. Bernie Sanders to the presidential race,” said Galland. “The Democratic Party is made stronger by each additional voice who enters the race and commits to being a strong advocate for everyday, hardworking Americans and not just the wealthy few. That’s why we and our allies continue to call on Sen. Elizabeth Warren to also bring her tireless advocacy for middle-class and working Americans to the race. Our country will be stronger if she runs.”

Sanders enters a race that has so far been dominated by Clinton, the former secretary of state and Democrats’ prohibitive favorite for the nomination. For most of 2015, Sanders has been reticent to attack Clinton, but he recently has issued statements calling on her to change her policy positions.

 

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Cash The Big Issue For Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb Over 2016 Decision to Run

Jim WebbFormer Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, exploring a possible 2016 presidential campaign, said he is in the process of deciding whether he can “put together the type of money” needed and still remain independent of special interests.

Mr. Webb, a Democrat, said his chief political dilemma is building a realistic campaign without becoming beholden to donors in an era where the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has allowed individual donors to give millions to support campaigns.

Appearing on Washington Journal on C-Span, Mr. Webb said nowadays, “someone can write an individual check for $26 million” and a candidate such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush can seek to raise $100 million within three months. Against that backdrop, the former Virginia senator said he is evaluating whether a campaign will be possible for him.

Mr. Webb, who formed an exploratory committee in November, will be a speaker at a state event in Iowa in April, a potential forum for him to make the case that he is a viable alternative to Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination.

Mr. Webb, who served in the Senate from 2007 to 2013, cast his possible campaign as one that would be aimed at leveling the economic playing field between millions of Americans with flat or declining salaries, and the very wealthy amassing “money that’s being made on passive income” such as stock dividends and capital gains. Acknowledging that he himself makes money on stocks, he voiced the concern that “people are getting separated” and actually getting further apart financially.

A onetime combat Marine in Vietnam and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mr. Webb repeated his concerns about how President Barack Obama has used military force. Addressing the recent history in Libya, he said the “real story on Libya is, when can a president unilaterally use military force” if no treaties compel the U.S. to do so?

“The doctrine of when we use military force has become very vague,” he said.

“It’s impossible to overstate how difficult it will be for a non-Hillary Clinton candidate to gain traction, donor money and endorsements the later we get in the cycle and the more her nomination feels like a fait accompli,” said Democratic strategist Christy Setzer. “But to the extent there’s room in the Democratic primary, it’s to the left of Clinton not a space Webb naturally occupies.”

“And the rationale he’s identified for his candidacy,  the need for the Democratic Party to fix its problem with white working class people,  isn’t as much of an issue with Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, who tend to resonate with those audiences, much more so than Obama ever did,” Ms. Setzer said. “If Webb can gain any traction, he’ll need to carve out space on an issue Clinton’s not talking about or can’t talk about.”

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Romney Tells Group Of Potential Donors – He’s Mulling Another White House Run

Mitt RomneyFormer Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, told a small group of loyalists on Friday that he’s mulling another run for the White House.

The move will throw the GOP’s fast-coalescing race into chaos as it now must make room for both Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, two moderates seen as competing for the same heavyweight donors.

‘Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run,’ Romney told donors during the get-together in New York City, according to a source who spoke to Politico.

A longtime Romney camp insider contacted by DailyMail.com expressed surprise at the news and had no knowledge of the event.

The inside-the-beltway newspaper learned that financier Alex Nabab, who participated in a fundraising event for Bush, attended the Romney gathering of about 30 influential money-men and women.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Romney met Wednesday in California with a select group of aides from his 2012 campaign, including counselors Ben Ginsberg and Katie Biber Chen, press secretary Andrea Saul and policy director Lanhee Chen.

The Post interviewed Spencer Zwick, Romney’s former national finance co-chairman, who attended the New York meeting on Friday.

‘I believe Mitt Romney is too much of a patriot to sit on the sidelines and concede the presidency to Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren when he knows that he can fix the country,’ Zwick told the newspaper.

‘He traveled the country in 2014, met with voters, met with citizens, and I think at the end of the day he believes he could actually make a difference.’

Another person in attendance said that Romney answered a question about his intentions by saying, ‘People ask if I really want to be president. … I’ve run twice. Yeah, I want to be president.’

Romney ran in 2008, losing the GOP nomination to Arizona Sen. John McCain, and in 2012, becoming the Republican nominee but failing to beat President Barack Obama.

The Mormon politician’s ties to big business caused him trouble three years ago in the harsh spotlight of an unsympathetic mass-media.

Another Romney run has long been rumored but never substantiated, and he has outpaced the field in polls where his name is included among GOP hopefuls.

‘At one point during the meeting,’ The Wall Street Journal reported, ‘one of the attendees asked Mr. Romney if he wanted to be president, a person present said. The 2012 nominee said, yes, of course.’

The meeting was reportedly scheduled weeks ago in December, long before Bush announced the formation of a leadership PAC – the first step toward a likely candidacy.

Romney has no timetable for a decision, according to the Journal, but said the domestic U.S. economy and the tumultuous foreign affairs environment in which the Obama White House has made some stumbles, are on his mind as he mulls his future.

His first hurdle, however, may be persuading his wife Ann to withstand another bruising campaign cycle.

She seemed to slam the door on the idea in October, telling the Los Angeles Times that she and Mitt were ‘done’ running for president ‘completely.’

‘Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done,’ she said, referring to the couple’s five sons.

‘Done. Done. Done,’ Mrs. Romney added.

But other statements from the politician himself have left prognosticators scratching their heads.

He said in August that while he had no plans to run again, ‘circumstances can change.’

Then his wife suggested he could make a political comeback – but only if Bush stayed out of the race.

In October he swatted away a scrum of reporters in Kentucky, where he was campaigning for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election, telling them, ‘I’m not running, I’m not planning on running and I expect to be supporting one of the many people who I think are looking at this race.’

He repeated the refrain days later in an interview with Bloomberg News.

‘I’m not letting my head go there,’ Romney said with cameras rolling. ‘Where I’m focused on making sure we nominate the right person, who cares about the kinds of issues I care about.’

By November he was re-engaged in policy issues, taking a direct swipe at President Obama for what he called an ‘extra-constitutional’ move to mainstream millions of illegal immigrants.

Following through, he warned, would be ‘poking an eye of the Republican leaders in Congress.’

‘The president has got to learn that he lost this last election round,’ Romney said on the NBC News program Meet the Press. ‘The American people spoke loud and clear. Let those people who were elected come together with a piece of legislation on this and other topics, and then he has a chance to veto them if he doesn’t like them.’

‘But the idea of violating the principles of our constitution, which is a balance of power, checks and balances, that is something which is wrong.’

In July amid an Obama public-opinion malaise accelerated by the release of five Taliban soldiers in exchange for a captive Army sergeant, a CNN/ORC poll found that Romney would win a do-over election against the president.

Romney would have taken 53 percent of the popular vote to Obama’s 44 percent, in that snapshot in time.

Weeks earlier a WMUR/Granite State Poll found that in the critical early primary state of New Hampshire, Romney crushed his Republican competition when his name was added to the field.

His numbers there emerged nearly as dominant as Hillary Clinton’s on the Democratic side, capturing 39 per cent of the vote.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul were each a distant second with a 7 per cent showing.

A followup poll by the same company in November found the margin had narrowed, with ROmney at 30 per cent and Paul at 11.

Nationally, CNN and ORC found in early December that Romney has a narrower lead among Republicans, winning the support of about 20 per cent.

Bush placed third in that poll at 9 per cent, one point behind former pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.

But that was before Bush publicly expressed an interest in running – and before Carson was embroiled in a plagiarism scandal surrounding his 2012 book ‘America the Beautiful.’

In July, Romney’s fellow Utahan Jason Chaffetz, a hard-charging Republican congressman, declared on MSNBC that Romney is ‘actually going to run, and I think he will be the next president of the United States.’

‘He’s been proven right on a lot of stuff,’ said Chaffetz.

 

 

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Jeb Bush Surges to Frontrunner Status in Latest CNN Poll

Jeb bushJeb Bush is the clear Republican presidential frontrunner, surging to the front of the potential GOP pack following his announcement that he’s “actively exploring” a bid, a new CNN/ORC poll found.

He takes nearly one-quarter 23%  of Republicans surveyed in the new nationwide poll, putting him 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tallied 13%.

Physician Ben Carson comes in third, with 7% support, and Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are both tied for fourth with 6%.

That marks a drop in support for all but Christie and Bush from the last CNN/ORC survey of the field, conducted in November. That poll showed Bush in the lead, but only taking 14% of the vote, while Carson came in second with 11% and Christie tied Rep. Paul Ryan for fourth with 9% support.

Bush’s 10-point lead is a milestone for the potential GOP field,  it marks the first time any prospective candidate has reached a lead beyond a poll’s margin of error in the past two years.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still far and away the favorite to take the Democratic nomination for president if she runs, with the support of two-thirds of Democrats polled. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal favorite, comes in a distant second place with just 9%.

Bush would still face some skepticism from GOP primary voters if he ran, but the CNN/ORC poll shows they are largely willing to forgive him for some of his more controversial comments and positions.

GOP primary voters are about evenly split on whether his support for allowing some illegal immigrants to stay in the United States makes them more or less likely to support him, or has no difference on their opinion of him.

Forty-two percent say his description of illegal immigration as an “act of love” make them less likely to support Bush, but another 39% say it makes no difference to them.

And while 40% say the fact that state government spending increased under Bush’s watch as Florida governor, another 49% say that doesn’t matter to them.

Even on Common Core educational standards, which many conservatives vehemently oppose, GOP primary voters are about evenly split on whether his support for those standards would make them less likely to support him.

Regardless, however, Bush may ultimately have little trouble overcoming his sins with the conservative base, as the CNN/ORC poll found Republican primary voters taking a pragmatic stance on the party’s nominee.

Sixty-nine percent say they want a nominee that can beat the Democratic candidate for president, even if that person doesn’t agree with them on every issue, while only 29 percent of GOP primary voters are purists.

And that makes Bush the candidate to beat in a GOP primary.

Out of all of the seven head-to-head GOP match-ups with Clinton tested, Bush fares the best, trailing her by just 13 points. She takes 54% support to his 41% support.

The survey was conducted by live interview among 1,011 adults nationwide from Dec. 18-21, with a subsample of 453 Republicans and 469 Democrats, via landline and cell phone. The overall sample has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

 

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Wide Republican Field Gears Up for 2016 Ambitions

GOP 2016 aThe Republican and Democratic potential presidential candidates are beginning to focus on 2016, evaluating their chances and building on the contacts they’ve accumulated over the last few years. Some have been at it for some time, some are still thinking about running. While many candidates are being discussed or having their supporters see about getting them discussed, this long list will shorten in the months ahead.

Some have already let it be known that they won’t be running. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, widely reported as considering running, announced last week that he would not be a candidate in 2016. While perhaps still pondering a race, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has begun talking about how he intends to focus on what he can do as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and his desire to spend more rather than less time in his home state.

The Democrats have, or think they have, a potential winner in Hillary Rodham Clinton. She leads all other potential contenders, but when the leading competitor is Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate every Republican would like to run against, that’s not surprising. We’re told by her supporters in the media that she’s a slam dunk for the nomination and, of course, would win handily against any Republican. Maybe, but we were told the same thing in 2007 before she was blown away by an obscure Illinois senator as voters discovered that she wasn’t a very good candidate. Now she’s eight years older, served an undistinguished stint at State, and may not be quite as ready for the presidency as those proclaiming themselves ready for her assume.

If Mrs. Clinton proves once again to have a political glass jaw, her party has a problem. VP Joe Biden doesn’t pass the giggle test; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be too busy dodging subpoenas; and Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley went down in flames by proxy on Nov. 4 as he tried to build support for his successor and create a populist legacy. That leaves Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a modern day George McGovern in a skirt and without a war record, who appeals narrowly to leftist firebrands within her party, but has yet to establish any reach, or maybe Vermont’s Bernie Sanders who seems to actually believe that the Birkenstocked crowd that elects him in Vermont is representative of the broader American electorate.

If they were race horses, most of them would be left at the gate or turn up lame on the first turn. To paraphrase former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld on countries and their armies, parties go to war with the candidates they have rather than those they might wish to have.

The Republicans seem better off. They have at least a half dozen credible contenders and more who are hoping lightning will strike if those who look like heavyweights today stumble early. Republicans have governors like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Ohio’s John Kasich, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Indiana’s Mike Pence, along with former governors like Texas’ Rick Perry and Florida’s Jeb Bush, Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee and even 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and long shots like former Maryland Gov. Bob Erlich and Virginia’s Jim Gilmore being talked about or laying the groundwork for what each hopes will be a serious campaign.

That’s a lot of potential candidates, but there are also senators like Texas’ Ted Cruz, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Florida’s Marco Rubio who may well run along with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and the aforementioned Paul Ryan.

Then there are “civilians” like U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Dr. Ben Carson and former California Senate candidate and Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina to name three. All in all, that’s quite a cadre of pols and before it’s over there may be more.

Today’s polls mean little because they reflect name identification and because normal people aren’t yet thinking seriously about who they will support when the time comes. So today’s polls would suggest that the “front runners” are Mrs. Clinton and either Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney.

These are the best known of the bunch and will no doubt attract a lot of big money early if they actually run, although the idea that Mr. Romney has the stomach for a rerun of 2012 seems far-fetched. Many believe that if the American people discover their choices are once again between a Clinton and a Bush, millions of voters may tune out or slit their wrists.

Pundits like to talk about the future as if historical trends will hold true, but we are living in a new age politically, culturally and technologically and the old rules may prove as useful as the polls taken before this fall’s elections in predicting what’s going to happen as the 2016 cycle begins.

Midterm elections are about the past; presidential races are about the future. One suspects that both of these wannabes fear that try as they might it may prove difficult if not impossible for the Bushes and Clintons to persuade a skeptical public that the future is what their candidacies are about.

The upsets last November demonstrated one thing hidden behind the name calling and negative attempts of candidates of both parties to paint their opponents as Satan’s representatives on earth: candidates who focused on real solutions to real problems did better than those who played by the old rules. That, above all, was a sign that voters have had enough. They know the country is facing some real challenges and are looking for leaders who will face them rather than spend their time blaming them on others.

Only a fool would predict at this stage who will prove up to that challenge, but one thing we can predict right now: The race for the presidency in 2016 is going to be one heckuva spectacle.

 

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Romney Still The First Among Equals In New Quinnipiac Poll

RomneyFormer Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney may be insisting that he does not want to make another run for the presidency, but Republican voters nationwide want him in the race, a new Quinnipiac University National Poll.

“Remember Mitt? Republicans still have Gov. Mitt Romney top of mind and top of the heap in the potential race for the top job,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

The results shadow those of a separate Bloomberg/Saint Anselm poll that showed Romney leading the large potential Republican field of potential White House candidates by a double-digit margin in early-primary state New Hampshire, gaining  the support of 30 percent of voters, a new poll showed.

Quinnipiac’s poll of 1,623 registered voters revealed that 19 percent of them gave Romney the top spot out of several other candidates, followed closely by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, with 11 percent.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Dr. Ben Carson came in at 8 percent each, with no other potential Republican candidate breaking the 6 percent mark. Sixteen percent of the voters were undecided in the poll, which carried a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

But when the pollsters removed Romney from the questions, Bush led by 14 percent, followed by Christie at 11 percent, Carson at 8 percent, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 8 percent. Nineteen percent of the voters were undecided.

Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains a clear front-runner for the Democratic side of the ticket, reports the poll. She netted 57 percent of registered voters who were polled by Quinnipiac compared to Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 13 percent of the vote, and Vice President Joe Biden at 9 percent. No other Democratic candidates netted over 4 percent of the polling sample.

Oddly, if Clinton were out of the race, Biden’s chances shot past Warren’s in the poll, with 34 percent saying they’d pick Biden and 25 percent for Warren.

Romney would fare best over Clinton if they are both nominated for the 2016 presidential race, but not by much. The poll found that 45 percent said they would vote for Romney while 44 percent said they’d vote for Clinton.

The former first lady and secretary of state defeated the other potential candidates in the poll. She came out ahead of Christie 43 percent to 42 percent; ahead of Bush, Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 46 to 41 percent; Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan 46-42 percent; and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz 48 to 37 percent.

“But Jeb Bush looms large in second place,” Malloy added, and with “Christie also in the mix, it looks like Republican voters are favoring more moderate choices for 2016.”

Clinton also got the highest favorability rating in the poll, at 50 percent to 45 percent.

In comparison, Romney’s favorability rating was 44-42 percent; Christie at 38-33 percent; Bush, 33-32 percent; Ryan, 36-28 percent; Huckabee, 36-29 percent; and Paul, 35-26 percent. Cruz, with a 21-29 percent rating, was the only candidate marking negative favorability ratings in the poll.

Both political parties, along with the tea party movement, marked negative favorability ratings. The tea party’s rating was at 27-45 percent; Democrats, 35-54 percent; and Republicans, 38-49 percent.

 

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First Lady Michelle Obama Stumps for Democrats in Iowa and Minnesota

AP MIDTERM ELECTIONS MICHELLE OBAMA A ELN USA IAFirst lady Michelle Obama stumped for Democrats in Iowa and Minnesota Tuesday, calling on the young and minority voters who powered her husband’s rise to the presidency to help the party avoid a potentially bruising midterm election.

Mrs. Obama first urged college students and supporters at the University of Iowa to vote early and volunteer for Bruce Braley, who is in a tight Senate race against Republican Joni Ernst. She delivered a similar rallying cry to a mostly black crowd later Tuesday at a high school in Minneapolis, where Sen. Al Franken and fellow Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton are counting on turnout from those groups.

Tuesday’s stop in Iowa City was Mrs. Obama’s second trip to this month to shore up support for Braley, whose win may be crucial to Democrats’ maintaining control of the Senate.

Braley, a four-term congressman, had once been a favorite to win the seat held for 30 years by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, one of his mentors. Now he’s running even with Ernst, a first-term state senator and commander in the Iowa National Guard.

Mrs. Obama said it would be up to younger voters to “step up” and help deliver the state for Braley, as they did for her husband, Barack Obama, during his presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012.

“For just three hours of your time, you will get six years of an outstanding senator who will carry on Tom Harkin’s legacy,” Mrs. Obama said. “If we all keep stepping up and bringing others along with us, I know we can elect Bruce Braley as the next senator from Iowa.”

She said students should take anyone they know to the polls with them, joking, “Bring the folks you met at the party last weekend!”

In Minnesota, Franken and Dayton have leads in public polling over their GOP challengers. The first lady’s visit was just the most recent in a parade of Democratic stars, including former President Bill Clinton and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who have stumped for the two candidates, all stressing the importance of voting in the midterm election.

Republicans in both states used Mrs. Obama’s visits to tie Democratic candidates to the president and his waning approval ratings. The campaign of Mike McFadden, Franken’s Republican challenger, called Tuesday “a reminder that President Obama’s policies are on Minnesota ballots this fall in the form of Al Franken.”

On both stops, the first lady defended her husband’s record. In Minneapolis, she reminded voters of “the mess he’d been handed” when he took office in 2009. In Iowa City, she said he helped turn around a struggling economy, expanded financial aid for students and signed health care reform that allows people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

Speaking to the cheering crowd of more than 2,000 in Minneapolis, the first lady said voters need to re-elect Democrats such as Dayton and Franken to continue on that path. She said Republicans are counting on diminished turnout of young and minority voters, like in the 2010 midterms that were disastrous for Democrats, to take back the Senate and governor’s offices.

“People were shocked when Barack won because they were counting on folks like us to stay home,” Mrs. Obama said. “It’s up to us to get out and vote. Only we can prove them wrong.”

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