Bruce who? Michelle Obama flubs Iowa Senate candidate’s name

The first lady, who flew in Friday to help sway undecided voters in the moderate state, repeatedly called Rep. Bruce Braley 'Bruce Bailey' during her speech. She's not the first.

Carlos Osorio/AP
First lady Michelle Obama campaigns in Detroit for Michigan Senate candidate, Rep. Gary Peters, before heading to Iowa Friday to stump for Rep. Bruce Braley in that state's tight Senate race.

Rep. Bruce Braley has had a tough US Senate campaign.

Once expected to make a strong showing as a sitting congressman against a lesser-known candidate, he is instead viewed as having lost that edge through a number of mistakes.

But the latest was not his fault. First lady Michelle Obama, who flew in Friday to help sway undecided voters in the moderate state, repeatedly called the candidate “Bruce Bailey” during her speech. 

“You need to elect Bruce Bailey to the US Senate,” she said during her speech at Drake University in Des Moines, before directing listeners to the website, “”

"When we stay home, they win. They're assuming that we won't care. They're hoping that we're not organized and energized and only we can prove them wrong," Mrs. Obama said of Democrats, who tend to turn out in fewer numbers during midterm elections.

The Iowa Senate race – one of a handful on which control of the Senate could hinge – is incredibly tight. The latest RealClearPolitics polling average gives Braley’s opponent, Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst, a 1.5-point advantage.

Both Twitter and those watching in the crowd, who corrected her midway through her speech, noticed Obama’s flub. By the Daily Caller's count, she called Braley Bailey seven times.

“What did I say? I’m losing it … I’ve been traveling too much,” the first lady said jokingly, after being told of her mistake in a video posted by the Des Moines Register. 

Indeed, Iowa was Obama’s second campaign appearance of the day. 

Earlier Friday, she campaigned for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and Democratic Rep. Gary Peters in Michigan. Mr. Schauer is locked in a tight race with Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who has a slight edge, according to recent polls. Representative Peters is running against former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) for retiring Sen. Carl Levin’s seat.

Next week, Obama will be in Florida, fundraising for former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as a Democrat against Gov. Rick Scott. 

The first lady remains a popular standard bearer for Democrats, even though her husband’s approval ratings have sunk into the low 40s. According to the Pew Research Center, she is viewed positively by 62 percent of the public.

Unfortunately, the name wasn’t Obama’s only mistake of the evening: She also said Braley was a Marine Corps veteran. He isn’t, although his father was. The late Byard Braley fought in the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

Ms. Ernst, on the other hand, is a member of the Iowa National Guard.

Obama isn’t the first Democratic star to call Braley, “Bailey.” Last month, former President Clinton did the same thing, the Des Moines Register reports. 

An enterprising GOP operative already locked up the website, The Washington Post notes. It redirects viewers to Ernst’s campaign.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.