FLOTUS A Not-So-Secret 2012 Campaign Weapon

Source: Nancy Benac / MSNBC

Washington – She’s mingled barefoot among Aspen’s elite, stirred a Vermont utility executive to tears and bucked up disenchanted New Yorkers.

The 2012 presidential campaign is well under way for Michelle Obama, and the first lady is promising to put herself into the election effort like never before. More than a year out from Election Day, she is hauling in millions in campaign cash and sketching a portrait of her husband that is drawn with an intimacy that no one else could duplicate.

The first lady always ends her speeches to Democratic donors with two questions: “Are you in? Are you fired up?”

It’s a call to arms that the Obama campaign needs more than ever this election, when the combination of a weak economy and dampened enthusiasm for the president are creating a tougher climate for raising money.

Since mid-May, the first lady has headlined more than a dozen fundraisers for her husband and the Democratic Party, at sites from Burlington, Vt., to Berkeley, Calif. She’s cramming in three more events in Maine and Rhode Island within six hours on Friday, the last day of a closely watched reporting period for quarterly campaign fundraising. She’s also blasted out a number of mass emails to party faithful trying to recapture the energy that has waned since her husband’s 2008 campaign.

“He needs you to work like you’ve never worked before,” Mrs. Obama tells audience after audience. “Every day. And that’s what I plan on doing.”

On Thursday, the Obama campaign popped out an email from Mrs. Obama urging people to donate even as little as $3 before Friday’s quarterly deadline to be in the running for dinner with her husband.

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