By Justin Sink
Sen. Mary Landrieu might be airing a campaign advertising blasting the Obama administration's energy policies as "simply wrong," but the vulnerable Louisiana Democrat will be appearing with first lady Michelle Obama at an event this Saturday in New Orleans.
The first lady and Landrieu will meet with the spouses of veterans to hear their firsthand accounts "of the transition of families from active duty military to veteran status," the White House said Thursday.
But veterans' affairs have taken on a new complexity after revelations late last month that veterans died waiting for care at VA hospitals around the country. Top veterans advocacy groups, including the American Legion, have called on the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, although President Obama has so far stood by his Cabinet member.
Appearing with the first lady could prove a political liability for Landrieu, who has actively sought to distance herself from the president ahead of what should be a tough reelection fight.
A Magellan Strategies poll released April 29 showed Landrieu 2 points behind Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). And a New York Times poll last month showed 54 percent of Louisianans disapproving of Obama, with just 4 in 10 satisfied with how he was handling his job.
Still, the first lady remains far more popular than her husband, with a March Gallup poll showing two-thirds of Americans viewing her favorably. That was 14 points better than her husband's showing in the same survey.
While in Louisiana, the first lady will also deliver the commencement speech at Dillard University, a top-ranking historically black university.
Landrieu won't be the only vulnerable southern Democrat to have appeared with an inhabitant of the White House this week. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) welcomed Obama to his home state on Wednesday to survey tornado damage.
"That's what I told the president, I said, 'It's time for us to put away the red jersey, put away the blue jersey and put on the red white and blue. You know, let's help these people rebuild. I think he was moved by that. I know I've been moved by that," Pryor told Arkansas ABC News affiliate KATV.