In sign of robust support from the White House, Michelle Obama swooped into Boston Wednesday for a fund-raiser for Representative Edward J. Markey that netted the Democratic Senate candidate more than $700,000 in his battle against Republican Gabriel E. Gomez.
“My husband can’t do it alone,” Obama told about 280 people in a hotel ballroom at the Taj Boston. “He absolutely needs folks like Ed Markey in the Senate to make it happen.”
She exhorted the crowd to not let complacency overtake the passion that sent Elizabeth Warren to the Senate and twice elected her husband to the nation’s highest office.
“Listen to this, Massachusetts: You simply cannot elect Barack Obama by a landslide and then lose this Senate seat!” she said. The audience, which included donors who had paid as much as $37,600 for tickets to the event, applauded loudly.
Though Obama campaigned heavily for her husband during his two long battles for the White House, she rarely hits the trail for Senate candidates.
Donors also heard from Markey and the Commonwealth’s two senators, both Democrats: Warren and William “Mo” Cowan.
Warren went on offense against Gomez, but avoided mentioning him by name.
“He is a Republican who would put Mitch McConnell one vote closer to controlling the US Senate,” she said, referring to the Senate Republican leader.
At an event in Worcester, Gomez declined to criticize Michelle Obama. “I’ve got nothing but great things to say about Mrs. Obama,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for her.”
Before Obama’s speech, donors dined on Boston bibb lettuce with orange segments, walnuts, goat cheese, and citrus basil vinaigrette, as well as roasted Chilean sea bass with a fricassée of asparagus, morels, green beans, and shallots.
Stanley N. Griffith, a lawyer from Lexington, said he was there to support Markey. But, he explained, holding the seat formerly occupied by John F. Kerry had a larger import.
“We have a system of government that depends on having 60 votes in the Senate, and until we [get] that, we’re never going to get anything done,” he said, referring to margin often necessary to pass legislation in the hyperpartisan chamber.
Security around the hotel was tight. Boston and State Police briefly blocked traffic on Arlington Street and kept pedestrians several blocks from the entrance as Obama’s motorcade growled into an entryway to the hotel garage.
Obama also privately visited victims of the Boston Marathon bombings inside the hotel. One of them was Heather Abbott, who said the meeting helped her morale.
“She talked about the hope for the future and the fact that prosthetic legs are so advanced,” Abbott said from a wheelchair, as she was leaving the Taj. Abbott had met Obama at Brigham and Women’s hospital April 18, three days after the bombing.
“When I met her I was in the ICU; I hadn’t even had my amputation yet,” Abbott said. “Now here I am, weeks later, ready to get fitted for my prosthetic leg.”
As Obama spoke, she exuded energy, and by the end of her remarks the crowd was on its feet.
“We’re fired up, Michelle,” a woman yelled.
“Be fired up!” Obama replied, as the speech concluded. “We will get this done.”