By Bria Brown

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former President Barack Obama gives a boost to Gary Peters of Michigan in a new ad released Tuesday by the Democratic senator’s reelection campaign.

The 30-second spot shows Obama lauding his “friend” Peters, who is facing a challenge from Republican John James. Peters served in Congress all eight years of Obama’s presidency — six in the House and two in the Senate before Donald Trump was elected.

Obama credits Peters for working to rescue the auto industry, protect the Great Lakes and pass the federal health care law that bans insurers from using preexisting conditions to deny coverage.

“Today, the progress we made together is under attack. But Gary Peters is someone I trust to protect it,” Obama says.

The ad’s release comes after the Peters campaign late Monday released a video in which Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says Democrats must reelect Peters to help retake control of the Senate. Republicans have a 53-47 edge but are in danger in several states. Michigan is a place where the GOP is playing offense to try to offset potential Democratic gains elsewhere.

Peters has been slightly ahead in many polls, though his support has lagged Biden’s in some surveys. Political experts have said voters may not know the party affiliation of Peters or James, who is Black, because it is not clear in their advertising.

Democrats are pushing health care as a key issue in the contest. Noting James’ support for repealing the health law, they say he has no plan to protect people with preexisting medical conditions. James says any replacement of the law must protect people with preexisting conditions, but he has not outlined a detailed proposal.

James on Tuesday released an ad in which his grandmother says he “understands how important health care is and would do all that he can to protect it.”

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