ANN ARBOR, Mich. —
"Gary is concerned that too many Michigan middle-class families and those aspiring to get there are struggling right now, so he is glad to see President Obama take on such an important issue like raising the minimum wage because it will make a difference to Michiganders," said Peters campaign spokeswoman Haley Morris.
Still, appearing with Obama is not without risk, even in a Democratic-leaning state like Michigan. An EPIC/MRA poll of voters in the state taken in February showed 61 percent of respondents have a negative view of Obama's job performance, verses 37 percent positive. The same poll found Peters at 38 percent in a dead heat against Republican opponent former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land at 41 percent, within the poll's margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Obama wants to increase the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 as part of an election-year economic agenda focused on working families. The White House says that would benefit more than 970,000 workers in Michigan.
"This is not just good policy," Obama told Democratic governors at a White House meeting in February. "It also happens to be good politics, because the truth of the matter is the overwhelming majority of Americans think that raising the minimum wage is a good idea. That is true for independents, that is true for Democrats, and it's true for Republicans."
The Senate could vote on a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 as early as next week. The Senate's second-ranking Democrat, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, said Wednesday that if Republicans block Democrats' efforts he would be open to negotiating a compromise.
In Michigan, proponents of a higher minimum wage are working to collect enough signatures for a ballot initiative to raise the state's rate from $7.40 to $10.10 an hour. The EPIC/MRA poll found 60 percent support for the ballot measure, verses 36 percent against.