First Lady Urges Donors to 'Max Out' to Senate Democrats

First lady Michelle Obama urged donors in New York on Monday to contribute to Democrats' efforts to hold the Senate majority in 2014, saying "the midterm elections matter" in helping the president's agenda move forward. "There’s something that we and all of you can do right now, today, to make a huge difference, and it's simple: You can write a big old fat check," Obama said, according to a transcript of her remarks. Obama headlined the women-focused Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event at a midtown Manhattan hotel, where female senators and candidates running in 2014 were among those in attendance. More than 300 donors who gave at least $250 each gathered around 25 tables in a Sheraton ballroom, according to a White House pool report. In her remarks, the first lady highlighted bills like Obamacare that barely survived a Senate vote, as well as those that came up short, including the expansion of background checks on gun purchases. "So we need you all to max out," Obama said. "And just as important, once you’ve maxed out, we need you to get everyone you know to give whatever they can, as well." In his introductory remarks, DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado said that looking back at some of the party's gains over the last few cycles, it was "very clear that the way we won them was by running women." Three female candidates were on hand from states President Barack Obama lost in 2012: West Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia, the latter two being the party's only offensive opportunities next year. Secretaries of state Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky and Natalie Tennant of West Virginia have both been outspoken about their opposition to some of the administration's policies, especially regarding the importance of coal to their states. Grimes is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Tennant is running to hold the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Michelle Nunn, the longtime head of the Points of Light Foundation, is hoping to turn around the party's fortunes in Georgia, where Democrats believe a combination of a favorable influx of voters to the Atlanta suburbs and a Republican nominee weakened by a brutal primary would give Nunn a good shot. Nunn is running for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Democratic senators on hand included Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, according to the pool report. Only Shaheen is up for re-election in 2014. Republicans must net six seats to win back the majority in the Senate.