JEFF KAROUB, Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – Michigan Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters secured some high-powered help for his campaign from the White House.

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Not the commander in chief, but his more popular wife.

Michelle Obama came to heavily Democratic Detroit Friday afternoon to rally support for Peters, a suburban Detroit congressman hoping to succeed retiring Democrat Sen. Carl Levin after 36 years in office. Peters has been leading Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land in most polls but the race has spurred heavy interest and out-of-state contributions as the GOP hopes to take control of the Senate.

She also stumped for Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mark Schauer, a congressman from 2009-11. The race is tight though some recent polls show GOP Gov. Rick Snyder with a slight edge.

“It really boils down to one fundamental truth: Gary and Mark … understand what Michigan families are going through,” Obama said. “They are going to be on your side every single day out in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.”

Obama drew a rousing response from the audience in Detroit, the largest municipality in the United States to file for bankruptcy and also home to the rebounding domestic auto industry after a federal bailout a few years ago supported by President Barack Obama.

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“There were plenty of folks in Washington who said we should let the auto industry go under. Your president didn’t listen. Gary Peters and Mark Schauer didn’t listen,” she said. “They bet on the American auto companies and since 2009 these companies have emerged to create nearly half a million jobs — the strongest industry growth since the 1990s.”

The first lady has become something of a campaigner-in-chief, most recently for Midwest candidates. Right after Detroit, she heads to Iowa, where she will join Democrat Senate candidate Bruce Braley, who is in a tight race with Republican Joni Ernst. Obama’s visits this week also have included Illinois and Wisconsin — the second time to Wisconsin in about a week. Democrats are trying hard to topple Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who drew their ire for sharply reducing the power of public sector unions in the state.

Democrats have been seeking her help, even as they avoid appearances with her husband, whose job approval rating has sunk to the low 40s. But the first lady is viewed positively by 62 percent of the public, according to the most recent Pew Research Center survey.

She’s not the only high-profile Democrat to be crisscrossing the country in the campaign’s final weeks. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has announced plans to campaign in at least 10 key states, including next week in Michigan, before Election Day in 25 days.

Republicans are doing the same. Last week, Land lured former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Michigan, and he plans to campaign in Iowa with Ernst on Sunday. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another possible presidential contender, plans to make stops across Michigan on Monday that include a Republican party fundraiser with Snyder.

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