ANN ARBOR, Mich. — President Barack Obama has said his call for a higher minimum wage is good policy and good politics in this midterm election year, and he's putting that theory to work for a Michigan Senate candidate who is the rare Democrat to appear with the embattled president.
Obama arrived for a three-hour visit to this Midwest battleground state and walked down the steps of Air Force One side-by-side with Rep. Gary Peters, the first Senate candidate to embrace the chance to appear with the president before voters this year. Some other Democrats have shied away from Obama amid controversy over his health care plan, but Peters flew along with Obama and plans to appear with him at a minimum wage event at the University of Michigan.
Michigan voted for Obama in both his presidential campaigns and his bailout of the auto industry has been popular here. Michigan also has an effort to put a measure on the November ballot to increase the state minimum wage, an initiative that polling shows is popular among voters who have been hit hard by the economic downturn in recent years.
On their way to the university campus, Obama and Peters stopped at Zingerman's Deli , an Ann Arbor landmark, where they ordered Reuben sandwiches and were served by a University of Michigan graduate who makes $9 an hour, a rate above the current federal minimum wage.
Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters traveling on Air Force One that the issue has particular resonance among college students like those the president was appearing before. Earnest noted Peters has been a "very strong advocate" in Congress to raise the minimum wage.
Peters could benefit from the publicity that a presidential visit brings, since he has not been elected statewide and polls show many voters are unfamiliar with him.