Beyonce praises Michelle Obama in new campaign ad. Will that win votes?

Beyonce stars in a new campaign ad reading a letter that praises First Lady Michelle Obama as a 'truly strong African-American woman.' According to a Gallup poll, Mrs. Obama is more popular than her husband.

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Beyonce accepts the award for best female R&B at the BET Awards on in this July 1 photo, in Los Angeles. Beyonce is the star of President Obama’s latest campaign ad, released online Monday, July 16.

Beyonce is the star of President Obama’s latest campaign ad. In the spot – released online Monday – the singer reads a letter she wrote in April that praises First Lady Michelle Obama.

In the letter Beyonce praises Mrs. Obama as “the ultimate example of a truly strong African-American woman”.

“No matter the pressure and the stress of being under the microscope she’s humble, loving and sincere. . . she builds and nurtures her family while also looking out for so many millions in so many ways,” says the Grammy-winning performer.

How did the campaign get Beyonce to do this? It wasn’t hard, apparently – she and the First Lady have had a mutual admiration society for some time. Beyonce performed at the presidential inauguration in 2009. Michelle took daughters Malia and Sasha to see a Beyonce concert earlier this year, and in May the First Lady told People magazine that if she could be anyone else, it would be You Know Who.

“Gosh if I had some gift I’d be Beyonce, I’d be some great singer,” said FLOTUS.

Of course, not everyone thinks that the White House-celebrity culture link is a good one. Republicans have run a number of ads portraying the president as show-business wannabe who doesn’t understand the problems of regular non-Grammy winning folks. When Obama attended a fundraiser in May at actor George Clooney’s house, the Republican National Committee put out a press release saying the “celebrity-in-chief” was raising big Hollywood bucks from his celebrity pals.

That said, we’ll note that the Beyonce ad does not appear to be designed for wide release. It’s on the campaign’s YouTube channel, and online ads tend to be aimed at narrow, specific audiences. It’s probable that the Obama folks will be promoting this by email among demographic groups to which they believe it would appeal. That means young voters, single women, and women in general, most likely.

We’d also hold that the real star of this ad is not Beyonce, but Michelle Obama. Sure, the singer appears at several moments, reciting her letter aloud, but most of the ad is devoted to video of the First Lady doing First Lady stuff – talking, dancing, traveling, and so forth. It’s FLOTUS who gets all the action shots.

That’s in keeping with the Obama team’s recent use of the First Lady as something of a campaign secret weapon. While the media obsesses about Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s time at Bain, Mrs. Obama has been traveling the country in recent days, raising money and making campaign stops on her own.

On Sunday, for instance, she appeared at a fundraiser in Pocantico Hills, New York. Her remarks were full of references to “family, “grandparents," and so forth. The First Lady held forth at length about her own life story growing up on the South Side of Chicago.

As other commentators have noted, Mrs. Obama has become one of the campaign’s primary weapons for outreach to the middle class. Perhaps that’s because she’s more popular than her husband. A Gallup poll from May 30 puts her favorability ratings at 66 percent – 14 points better than the president’s figure.

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