November 1, 2014 / 11:50 PM / in 3 years

Obama stumps in Michigan, where his popularity is still strong

DETROIT (Reuters) - President Barack Obama made his lone campaign appearance with a Democrat running for Senate on Saturday in Michigan, urging voters to remember how his administration helped rescue the auto industry when he first took office in 2009.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island October 31, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Obama, whose unpopularity has left him on the sidelines leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, spoke to a crowd of about 6,000 supporters of Democratic congressman Gary Peters, who is expected to win the seat held by retiring long-time Democratic Senator Carl Levin.

Focusing his message on economic issues, Obama also rallied support for Democrat Mark Schauer, a former Democratic representative who is in a tight race for governor.

“They said we shouldn’t walk away,” Obama told a rally in a gymnasium at Wayne State University, recalling how the Michigan delegation fought for the Detroit-based auto industry.

Obama’s appearance was part of a last-ditch effort by Democrats to get out the vote for their candidates. Polls show Republicans are likely to gain control of the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s election.

“I need you to get some classmates. I need you to get some coworkers. I need you to knock on doors and make some phone calls,” Obama said.

Obama has spent a lot of time raising money for Democrats leading up to the midterms, but with his approval ratings hovering around 40 percent he has kept a low profile on the campaign trail.

Obama is more popular in Michigan, where polling done on Oct 27 by Fox 2 Detroit/Mitchell put his approval rating at 48 percent.

That poll showed Peters with a 14 percentage point lead over Republican Terri Lynn Land, a former Michigan secretary of state.

The Fox 2 Detroit/Mitchell poll showed incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder with a five percentage point lead over Schauer.

But an EPIC-MRA poll done for the Detroit Free Press between Oct 26-28 showed a closer race, finding Snyder with a two-point lead over Schauer. Nine percent of poll respondents were undecided, and most of them leaned Democratic.

On Sunday, Obama will travel to Connecticut to campaign with Democratic Governor Dan Malloy, who is in a tough race, and to Philadelphia to campaign with Tom Wolf, Democratic candidate for governor.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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