Obama to Launch Campaign With Ohio, Va. Rallies

By Alexis Simendinger - April 26, 2012

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The presence of Michelle Obama with the president at the rallies -- the first two in a planned series -- will unite the most popular Obama family member with the campaign’s strategy to secure make-or-break votes from women, African-Americans, young people and Hispanics in key battleground states.

Romney is working to narrow a sizeable gender gap with the president in recent polls by relying, in part, on help from his wife, Ann, who is popular on the stump. The two spouses humanize their husbands, who have each been criticized at various times as arrogant, out of touch and more than a tad self-involved.

“We are very excited about the first lady’s participation,” Messina said. “She plays a special role on the campaign trail; she can speak to the president’s character and to his steady hand in times of crisis, and [to] what this administration’s accomplishments have meant to millions of Americans.”

Michelle Obama is viewed favorably by 69 percent of the public and unfavorably by 24 percent according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday. The survey also found that Ann Romney is more popular than her husband, as Americans continue to get acquainted with the Republican presidential candidate and his family.

On Friday, Obama and the first lady also will appear together at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga., for an event geared to the troops, veterans and military families.

David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, said it would make little difference to the campaign’s strategy if Romney chooses Ohio Sen. Rob Portman as his running mate. Portman’s name is one of many floating in the ether as possible pairings on a GOP ticket, but Axelrod was clearly poised to staple the senator into the campaign’s “back to the future” book on Romney.

“Sen. Portman was one of the architects, as budget director, of the last administration’s economic policies,” he told reporters. “It’s just one more sign, if [Romney] does that, that he wants to go back to those policies.”

Axelrod again defended Obama’s record of supporting American auto companies and manufacturing and said those decisions were important to Ohio and other Midwestern workers. Romney in 2010 said he would have favored a structured bankruptcy for the car companies rather than government assistance, which in part has inspired the Obama campaign to describe “competing philosophies” throughout the Midwest.

“Romney has pooh-poohed manufacturing,” he added, and has a record of “outsourcing and leveraging companies” while at Bain Capital. “Ohio has seen plenty of that.”

The campaign has been criticized in recent months by Republicans and the media for leveraging the resources of the White House to create “official” events in swing states that look and sound like campaign rallies but are paid for by taxpayers as official presidential events. The president, for example, appeared at college campuses in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa this week to discuss Democrats’ legislative efforts to hold down student loan interest rates after July 1.

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Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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