Michelle Obama urges Democrats to vote in November

Franken, Obama, Dayton
First lady Michelle Obama, center, joins Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken, left, and Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, right, at a get-out-the-vote rally at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis.
Ann Heisenfelt / AP

In the closing days of the campaign before the midterm elections, Democrats in Minnesota have turned to the person many call their party's secret weapon to help motivate voters.

The first of national Democrats to stump for Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken this week is first lady Michelle Obama, who headlined a get-out-the-vote rally Tuesday afternoon in Minneapolis.

After campaigning for a Senate candidate in Iowa, she stopped at Patrick Henry High School in north Minneapolis, joining Dayton, Franken, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

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Both Franken and Dayton enjoy leads in the polls. But Obama said Democrats shouldn't be complacent.

"When the midterms came along, too many of our people just tuned out," she said. "And that's what folks on the other side are counting on this year. Because they know when we stay home, they win."

Obama also reminded the crowd that both candidates have been tested, citing Dayton's win in 2010 and Franken's razor-thin victory in 2008, after recounts.

The first lady's rally preceded visits to Minnesota on Thursday by Vice President Joe Biden, who will speak in Duluth, and by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be in the Twin Cities.

A KSTP/SurveyUSA poll has Franken running 15 points ahead of Republican Mike McFadden. Another poll from the same group shows Dayton with a 10-point edge over GOP challenger Jeff Johnson.

In an emailed statement Thursday, Johnson said Democrats are bringing in the "big guns" because the party is concerned about Dayton's ability to articulate his own message.

McFadden's campaign also issued a statement calling Franken "the most partisan Senator in Washington." It said Mrs. Obama came to Minnesota to thank Franken for his loyalty.

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