MADISON — President Barack Obama will hold a rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison next week, and just two weeks later the first lady will be in Milwaukee raising money for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.
The Obamas’ visits to Wisconsin point out the importance of the swing state in midterm elections, with Feingold facing a tough challenge from millionaire Republican Ron Johnson and Democrats hoping to hold on to the governor’s office.
The president hosted a fundraiser last month for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. On Tuesday, the White House announced the first lady plans an Oct. 13 fundraiser in Milwaukee for Feingold. Details of the event, including how much it will cost and where it will be located, have not been finalized, Feingold campaign spokesman John Kraus said.
Kraus’ prepared statement said the senator was excited about the first lady coming to Wisconsin, looks forward to her visit and appreciates her support.
At least publicly, Feingold showed more enthusiasm about the first lady’s visit than he did when the president, whose approval ratings are at their lowest point in Wisconsin, came to Milwaukee for a rally on Labor Day. Feingold skipped the event, saying he didn’t want to break his commitment to campaign at his hometown parade in Janesville.
Feingold also was not expected to attend the president’s rally in Madison next week because Congress is in session.
More details of the president’s Sept. 28 rally were expected to be released soon. It is one of four rallies he has planned in swing states leading up to the Nov. 2 election. It will mark his sixth visit to Wisconsin as president and his fourth trip since late June.
Obama filled the 17,000-seat Kohl Center on the UW campus a week before the presidential primary in 2008.
The first lady is also making campaign stops in the coming weeks in California, Colorado, New York, Illinois and Washington state.
Her Wisconsin visit comes nine days after early voting begins, so in addition to boosting Feingold’s bank account it could help his efforts to get college students and others to vote before Election Day.
Polls indicate a tight race with Johnson, who outspent Feingold $4.5 million to $4.2 million through Aug. 25 this year.
Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor, is hoping to keep the governor’s office in Democratic control after incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle decided against seeking a third term. He is being challenged by Republican Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County executive.