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FLOTUS to the Rescue

Michelle Obama

First lady Michelle Obama. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

A handful of Democratic candidates will get a visit this fall from the Obama they’ve been asking for: first lady Michelle Obama.

Mrs. Obama will hit the campaign trail in October to raise money for Democrats locked in tough contests across the country. She’ll do nine fundraisers in seven cities, including:

October 13: Events in Wisconsin for Sen. Russ Feingold and in Illinois for Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, Reps. Debbie Halvorson and Bill Foster and House candidate Dan Seals, one of a handful of potential Democratic pickups in the House.

October 14: A fundraising luncheon for Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado.

October 25: Events for Sen. Patty Murray in Washington and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in California.

October 27: Campaigns for Sen. Barbara Boxer in California.

The first lady is also scheduled to make appearances at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum in New York on October 18 and Los Angeles on October 26.

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reported Tuesday that Democratic candidates should not expect Mrs. Obama to attack their GOP opponents. “Aides insisted that she will advocate for specific candidates, and talk about the
progress made in the country over the last two years, not directly
target Republicans,” according to Miller.

Mimi Hall of USA Today, meanwhile, notes that a recent CNN poll had Mrs. Obama’s approval rating at 62 percent, nearly 10 points higher than her husband’s numbers.

WHITE HOUSE CREATING JOBS

Economist Larry Summers, head of President Obama’s National Economic Council, will return to teaching at Harvard at the end of the year, leaving a big hole in the president’s economic team. The absence presents a big question: As the economy struggles to recover, who will the president tap to lead his economic policy in his post-midterm presidency.

President Obama credited Summers for helping the country survive a turbulent time.

“Over the past two years, he has helped guide us from the depths of the worst recession since the 1930s to renewed growth. And while we have much work ahead to repair the damage done by the recession, we are on a better path thanks in no small measure to Larry’s wise counsel,” the president said.

Summers said in a statement, “I will miss working with the President and his team on the daily challenges of economic policy making.”

Summers is the third high-profile economic adviser to leave the White House in recent months, joining former budget director Peter Orzag and Christina Romer, outgoing chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. All three were instrumental in directing the White House response to the economic crisis.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting some of the names floating around as possible replacements: Former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy is a top contender, followed by Deputy National Economic Council Director Diana Farrell and University of California-Berkeley economist Laura Tyson.

POLITICO, reporting that the White House is looking for a woman to replace Summers, adds Commerce Department official Rebecca Bank and current Xerox head Ursula Burns to the list of candidates under consideration.

LOSING ENERGY

Senate Republicans Wednesday are expected to remove Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski from her leadership post on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, adding to the fallout over her decision to seek re-election as a write-in candidate.

Murkowski resigned as vice chair of the Senate Republican conference Friday, the same day she announced her independent bid.

At his weekly press conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell told reporters that Senate Republicans would meet to decide “whether or not it’s appropriate for her, under the circumstances, to continue as ranking member on the Energy Committee.”

There have been growing signs of displeasure with Murkowski from other Republican Senators, including South Carolina’s Jim DeMint.

“Murkowski’s betrayal provides more proof that big-tent hypocrites don’t really care about winning a majority for Republicans,” wrote DeMint in a fundraising letter for Joe Miller, who won August’s GOP primary.

Murkowski has about $1 million in the bank and is up with her first television ad of the general election explaining her pursuit of a write-in candidacy. “[O]ver the past few weeks, thousands of Alaskans from every corner of the state have reached out to me and asked that we continue the fight for Alaska. Alaskans have spoken. They cannot accept the extreme views of Joe Miller nor the inexperience of Scott McAdams,” says Murkowski in her one-minute, direct-to-camera appeal.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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