What's Michelle Obama doing on Pinterest?

First lady Michelle Obama launched her Pinterest page with 12 images – the latest effort by Obama’s reelection team to leverage her popularity as much as possible in Election 2012.

Matt Rourke/AP
First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign event for her husband President Barack Obama, last week, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. On Wednesday morning, Michelle Obama joined the social media photo-sharing website Pinterest, and has already pinned 12 images on the service.

Michelle Obama has joined the social media photo-sharing website Pinterest. On Wednesday morning she pinned 12 images on the service, grouped in three categories: “Around the White House,” “Great Memories,” and “Father’s Day.” Or rather, she pinned eight of the images, and the Obama reelection campaign put up the rest. The Obama 2012 staff is going to run the site with Mrs. Obama’s input. Her personal pins will be signed with her initials, “mo.”

Some of the pictures are standard publicity fare. There is Mrs. Obama winning a tug-of-war with talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel, while a portrait of George Washington looks on. There's Mrs. Obama digging up what appear to be peppers from the White House garden. There’s the Obama family’s official 2011 portrait.

But there is also some stuff that might come under the heading of pretty personal blasts-from-the-past. There’s a photo from 1992 of the future first lady hugging the future president, her eyes on the camera, his staring off... somewhere. So young, they look. In the Father’s Day category there’s a rare shot of the couple kissing, and a miniature-golf action shot.

What’s Mrs. Obama doing, joining Pinterest now? Keeping up with Ann Romney, for one thing. Mrs. Romney has been on the site for a while, and has a nice, homey pinboard that’s heavy on recipes (Meat loaf cake? What’s that?), flag shots, and family photos.

The current first lady is also just augmenting her overall social media push. She’s got more than 1 million followers on Twitter (Her latest tweet: a twitpic of a sacked-out Bo) and 7 million “likes” on Facebook.

But what’s really behind all this is the effort by Obama’s reelection team to leverage the first lady’s popularity as much as possible as early as possible in the 2012 race. It’s a multipronged strategy: social media, her new book about the White House gardening and healthy eating, and traditional media appearances pegged to the book’s publication.

Oh, you thought it was just a coincidence that “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America” came out about the time the GOP picked its nominee and the general election began? Toughen up – the campaign’s just getting started.

Remember, Mrs. Obama’s poll numbers are much better than her husband’s. An April Marist survey found that 65 percent of registered voters had a positive view of the first lady, for instance. Only 23 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

“The first lady may be the president’s best asset,” said Lee Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, when the poll came out. “With numbers like these, expect her to have a high profile on the campaign trail.”

Voilà, Pinterest. The Father’s Day category on her new pinboard invites viewers to sign a Father’s Day card for the president. Click through, and it further invites you to contribute to the campaign.

With both sides eschewing public financing for the fall campaign, they are in a dollars race to amass enough cash to counter the other guy’s message. Expect more of the same, from both sides, in months to come.

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