July 24th, 2014
10:48 PM ET
Joining fundraising spree, first lady asks for 'biggest, fattest' checks
BY CNN White House Producer Kevin Liptak
(CNN) — First lady Michelle Obama jumped into the White House fundraising spree on Thursday, prodding supporters in Chicago to hand over the maximum campaign contribution in an attempt to shore up Democrats' chances in upcoming midterm elections.
Her entreaty came as her husband, President Barack Obama, capped a three-day fundraising swing on the West Coast, bringing in millions of dollars for the committees charged with electing Democrats to office.
"We need you to write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write," Mrs. Obama told a crowd of donors in Chicago, her hometown. "Writing those checks is the single-most impactful thing that you can do right now."
The president and first lady, along with Vice President Joe Biden, have stepped up their fundraising schedule in recent weeks as November's congressional contests approach. Democrats' chances of taking control of the House appear slim, and Republicans badly want to pick up the six Senate seats they'll need to take over that chamber.
While Obama's approval ratings hover at record lows — leaving many incumbent Democrats wary of campaigning alongside him — the President remains a draw at high-dollar fundraisers, which he's attended in New York, Texas, Colorado, Washington state and California just in the past month.
His journey west this week included two stops in Seattle, two in San Francisco, and two in Los Angeles, including a star-studded afternoon event at the home of "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes.
Aside from the official Democratic committees, Obama has also appeared at several events for two Democratic super PACs, despite his past opposition to outside groups with unlimited fundraising potential. Because the groups are barred by law from aligning with official party committees or candidates, the events don't have official price tags and organizers say they aren't really fundraisers.
While Obama doesn't specifically ask for funds during them, attendees at super PAC events are generally understood to be high-dollar donors who write big checks before leaving. There is no limit to the size of contributions to super PACs. Neither the White House nor the organizations themselves have provided the names of attendees at the four events Obama has attended for the groups.
In her fundraising pitch Thursday, Michelle Obama acknowledged "there's too much money in politics," but said Democrats couldn't afford to fall behind Republicans in that key area.
"We can't just stake out the moral high ground and feel good about ourselves - we need to act," she said.
During her remarks, Obama said she still believed in her husband's ability to exact change for the better, a campaign slogan from 2008 that last week Biden seemed to concede had not yet materialized.
"When folks ask me whether I still believe everything we said about hope and change back in 2008, I tell them that I believe it more strongly than ever before," she said. "While we still have plenty of work to do, we have truly made so much of that change we've been talking about."