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First lady makes West Coast swing

By Suzanne Malveaux and Matt Hoye, CNN
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First lady: 'We've come too far'
  • First lady Michelle Obama began her western campaign swing in Washington state
  • She headlines a dinner Monday night in San Francisco
  • The first lady will appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show on Tuesday

Washington (CNN) -- First lady Michelle Obama kicked off a West Coast tour on Monday to raise money and offer support for Democratic candidates a week ahead of the midterm elections.

The self-described mom-in-chief is determined to mobilize female voters who came out in support of her husband two years ago but may plan to sit this election out.

Like on previous campaign swings, Obama will draw on her own experience as a wife and working mom to try to convince female voters that the president's agenda benefits their lives.

At a recent rally for Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the first lady said, "more than anything, I come to this as a mom. My first priority has been making sure that my girls are happy and healthy."

Her aides say she will focus on how the Obama administration has helped military families, working mothers and those needing health care.

As polls show that she is more popular than the president, the first lady started her whirlwind tour speaking at a fundraiser for Sen. Patty Murray in Washington state before headlining a dinner Monday evening in San Francisco, California.

The event is meant to show White House support for embattled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents this heavily Democratic district. Pelosi has become a lightning rod in several tight congressional races.

Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is also scheduled to speak Monday evening.

Obama's associates say the women have become close friends over the past two years, particularly bonding over Biden's experience of sending her son Beau off to serve in the Iraq war in 2008, during the presidential campaign.

On Tuesday, the first lady is scheduled to tape a segment with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in Los Angeles. A day later, she attends a dinner in conjunction with Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election efforts.