The First Lady had planned to travel to California over the weekend, headlining a $32,000-a-head fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. She was later set to meet with House minority leader Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco for a “Woman’s Brunch,” but had to cancel that part of the trip as well.
Though Michelle Obama could have made the trip with her own money, the move was intended to send a message that ending the shutdown is the top priority, said Menlo College political science professor Melissa Michaelson. Had Michelle made the trip and raised money while the rest of the country faces furloughs and belt-tightening, it would have put a target on the Obama administration, Michaelson said.
“I think right now with everyone worried about the shutdown, not knowing how long it’s going to last, to look like we’re acting like everything’s normal, we’re going to keep fundraising, we’re just going to think about the next election, it looks like the party is not focused enough,” Michaelson said.
The missed trip could be harmful to the Democratic Party. The funds raised from the event would have gone toward efforts to re-take the House of Representatives. The wake of the government shutdown has left an opening for Democrats to close the gap in the House, where Republicans have logged their lowest approval ratings in 21 years.
Michelle Obama is not the only one to call off a trip due to the government shutdown. Her husband, President Barack Obama, was scheduled to travel to Asia for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a meeting of leaders from 21 nations held in Bali. Secretary of State John Kerry will instead lead the delegation.