- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2014

While her husband is vowing to bypass Congress whenever possible, first lady Michelle Obama is telling wealthy donors to write fat checks to Democratic candidates because the president cannot move on his agenda without Congress.

At a fundraiser in a tony Los Angeles neighborhood late Wednesday night, Mrs. Obama told about 200 supporters that President Obama needs Democrats to pick up seats in Congress this year to move forward on issues such as fair wages and college affordability.

“Let’s be clear, Barack cannot do this alone sitting by himself in the Oval Office,” Mrs. Obama said. “It’s simply not enough to elect Barack Obama president if we don’t also elect leaders in Congress and in our state houses who will work with him to keep making the change we all believe in.”

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told lawmakers he wants to work with them, but he also pledged to use his executive authority “wherever and whenever I can” to move forward on his priorities without Congress.

The Los Angeles fundraiser was hosted by television producer Phil Rosenthal, creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and his wife, actress Monica Horan.

Among the champagne-sipping guests at their home in the gated Hancock Park community were Barbra Streisand, actor James Brolin and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Tickets ranged from $1,000 to $32,400.

Mrs. Obama told donors that it is crucial for Democrats to win back the House and to hold onto the Senate in the midterm elections in November.

“What I want all of you to think about for just a minute is what could happen if we lose those six [Senate] seats,” she said, adding that it could mean the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, interference with a woman’s ability to obtain contraception, the banning of same-sex marriage, and the cutting off unemployment insurance.

“So make no mistake about it, it matters who is elected to represent us in Washington. It matters,” Mrs. Obama said. “If we are truly serious about continuing to move this country forward, then we can’t just sit back and hope for the best and then be surprised and outraged when things don’t work out.”

The first lady implored the guests to “write a big, fat check” to the Democratic Party.

“Write the biggest check you can possibly write,” Mrs. Obama said. “I know some of you may be tired of always being asked for money, and I understand, because it’s not always easy to ask you for it. But we do this because writing the checks is the single most impactful thing you can do right now to affect the outcome of those midterms. We need you to max out today.”

Some Democratic strategists say Republican voters appear to be more motivated this year, and Mrs. Obama echoed those concerns for Democrats.

“We need to be as passionate and as hungry as we were in 2008 and 2012, in fact we need to be even more passionate and more hungry, because these races will be even harder and even closer than those presidential elections,” she said. “It is not enough to simply stake out the moral high ground, feel good about ourselves and wait for things to turn out okay. We need to act.”

She added that 37 governor’s seats are up for election this year, and nearly three-fourths of state houses will be decided as well.

“We’ve got state legislatures in play, and remember, these are the folks who draw those congressional districts,” Mrs. Obama said.

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