Updated at: 10/03/2014 7:21 PM
ALANNA DURKIN STEVE LEBLANC
First lady Michelle Obama made a political swing through New England Friday on behalf of Democrats running for governor in tight races in Massachusetts and Maine, where she urged fired-up supporters to get to the polls when her husband's name won't be on the ballot.
At a rally in Maine for Mike Michaud, who hopes to oust Republican Gov. Paul LePage, Obama urged supporters to knock on doors and make calls, noting that the ground game over the next month will determine the outcome of the close three-way race.
"On election night, I want you to be able to look back and know that you did everything you could to elect Mike as the next governor of Maine," she told the crowd of roughly 1,500 at the University of Maine. "Because the stakes this year simply could not be higher."
Earlier Friday in Massachusetts, Obama energized a crowd during a rally for state Attorney General Martha Coakley, saying that the midterm elections are so important that she and her husband are both on the road even though it's their 22nd wedding anniversary.
"I might not even see him today," she told Democrats at the Strand Theatre in Boston's Dorchester Neighborhood.
Obama's visit to New England on Friday is the first of several trips the first lady will make over the next month to try to elect Democratic candidates this fall. Next week, she will head to Wisconsin and Illinois and is planning stops later this month in Iowa and Michigan.
Obama said the election of candidates like Coakley is critical to help build on the successes of her husband and to protect the needs of children and women, including raising the minimum wage, ensuring paid sick leave, and guarding women's reproductive rights.
"That is the kind of leader that Martha Coakley will be," Obama said. "That's why we need to elect her the next governor of Massachusetts."
Coakley vowed to campaign hard to become the state's first woman governor. She also took a shot at Republican challenger Charlie Baker and a new super PAC ad critical of her record on protecting children.
"If he thinks I will stand by and allow him to lie about my record ... then he's wrong and he doesn't know me," she said.
Meanwhile, Michaud warned that Maine faces many challenges, like too many laid-off workers, underfunded schools and crumbling bridges.
"Our current governor will never be able to fix these problems because he is too divisive, too wedded to his ideology and too unwilling to listen to anyone who has the audacity to disagree with him," said Michaud, who's joined in challenging LePage by independent candidate Eliot Cutler.
Obama told the Maine crowd that her husband became president because the groups that his opponents thought would stay home on Election Day â€” minorities, women and young people â€” got to the polls.
But during the last midterm elections, she said that "too many of our people just tuned out." That's what Republicans are counting on again this year, she said.
"They're assuming that we won't care," she said. "They're hoping that we won't be organized. And only we can prove them wrong."
(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)