With Dems facing gloomy prospects in November's midterms, First Lady Michelle Obama is hitting the campaign trail in a "big way" to help out, reports The Washington Times. Mrs. Obama — or "The Closer," as she's known among some Democrats — will headline nine fundraisers in six states next month, including one for Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and another for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), both of whom face the toughest re-election fights of their careers. It's a logical move: Polls show the first lady is significantly more popular than President Obama. But is her clout with voters sufficient to really make a difference? (Watch President Obama's campaign message)

Sending Michelle Obama into the fray is risky: Drafting the first lady is a no-brainer, says Maeve Reston in the Los Angeles Times. Her poll numbers beat the president's by double digits, and she can be "an effective voice for his agenda." The downside: Republicans could exploit her high-profile appearances to spin the midterms as a "referendum on President Obama," and Michelle could damage her standing as a "nonpartisan" promoter of "apolitical causes," such as anti-obesity.
"Michelle Obama to enter the midterm election fray"

She will make a difference: Michelle Obama is "likable" and "smart," and she has "enormous credibility" with the American people, says blogger YankeeJim at Now Public. She may be more comfortable out of the spotlight, but her party needs her to go "into high gear." She has the demeanor and appeal of "another recession/depression first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt," and having her on the campaign trail "will be a boost to Democrats."
"Obama 2 — Michelle the bombshell"

Sorry, it's a lost cause: The first lady is indeed "the most popular figure in the administration," says Andrew Stiles at National Review, but that's not saying much. And this strategy seems odd: One of her presumed beneficiaries, Russ Feingold, who trails his challenger Ron Johnson by 11 points, has seemingly gone out of his way to avoid appearing next to President Obama and distance himself from the White House.
"Feingold in trouble, Michelle to the rescue"