With Mitt Romney threatening to close the gap among female voters, the first lady could be one of the greatest assets her husband's reelection campaign has.
First Lady Michelle Obama can charm talk-show hosts, deliver winning anecdotes about her husband's socks, and bake a mean cookie. The mom-in-chief, as she calls herself, has broad appeal, but she's particularly good at firing up the Democratic base. And as the candidates fight over female voters, Michelle Obama's popularity could be pivotal.
Polls have given the president a substantial advantage among women voters throughout the cycle, but some recent polls -- like a USA Today/Gallup poll last week -- have shown gains for Republican nominee Mitt Romney as the race enters the final two weeks.
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For both candidates, "probably their best surrogate on the campaign trail and their best endorser when it comes to women's issues is their spouse," said Lisa Burns, professor of communications/media studies at Quinnipiac University.
This cycle, Michelle Obama has taken on an unusual role for a first lady: encouraging the Obama campaign's grassroots organizers and emphasizing political participation. The first lady held eight grassroots rallies in September and 12 in October so far, all in critical battleground states.