WASHINGTON -- Michelle Obama used an interview with a British paper to try to put the brakes on a potentially damaging narrative developing in the U.S. national political press over the last few days -- the "inevitability" that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will be the Democratic presidential nominee.
In an interview with the Sunday Times given to advance her London visit to headline a Monday fund-raiser for her husband, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Michelle Obama said: "The 'inevitable' candidate has not raised the most money and doesn't have the biggest base of donors. . . . So where's the 'inevitability'?"
Asked if she thought Clinton was a polarizing figure, she replied: "That is definitely one of the challenges she faces. You can see it in the surveys."
Michelle Obama is the Obama campaign's most important surrogate, and her comments about Clinton come as the candidate himself is hitting Clinton more aggressively. In an interview on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" aired Saturday, he was the most blunt yet in drawing the difference between himself and the front-runner.
"I opposed this war from the start, and Sen. Clinton did not," Barack Obama said.
Michelle Obama's quick London visit has been in the works for months and is designed to tap in to the wealthy community of U.S. expatriates living in Europe.
Only U.S. citizens and lawfully admitted permanent residents can contribute to U.S. federal campaigns. The Obama campaign is asking for passport numbers, Social Security numbers or permanent resident ID numbers of all donors. They are also asking contributors to reveal who referred them to the event -- information needed to identify their "bundlers" and useful in vetting donors.
Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton traveled to England to raise money for his wife. Republican White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, flew to London a few weeks ago to tap into the ex-pat GOP network and to meet with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Michelle Obama will hold a "tiered" event at the Landmark Hotel, where the price of being labeled a "host" is $23,000. Federal law caps an individual donation at $2,300 for the primary and $2,300 for the general election. The hosts get VIP time at 6:30 p.m. with Obama. The Sunday Times reported the event as $100 per ticket -- but that's just for the 8 p.m. ballroom event for the masses; students can get in for $50.
A $2,300 donation buys entree to the "sponsors" and main reception; $1,000 is the cost for the 7 p.m. "main" reception.