ORONO — About 1,500 people are expected to attend a rally in Orono with first lady Michelle Obama, who’s stopping in Maine to support Democrat Mike Michaud’s gubernatorial bid.

Obama and the six-term congressman will be joined by Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, at the event Friday at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine. The event begins at 3:30 p.m. The First lady is expected to speak at 5:05 p.m.

Michaud is looking for a boost in a heated three-way race for the Blaine House that remains tight with just a month until Election Day.

A recent poll from the Portland Press Herald showed Michaud slightly ahead of Gov. Paul LePage with independent Eliot Cutler a distant third. Michaud’s lead over the Republican governor was within the margin of error.

Richards’ speech likely will bring women’s issues back into the forefront of the race.

The Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, a political action committee, is spending heavily in the state in an attempt to oust LePage. The group has said it would shell out at least $500,000 on the gubernatorial race and other campaigns.

The group recently launched a television ad that praises Michaud for supporting abortion rights and criticizes LePage for actions such as vetoing a bill that would have provided more low-income women access to Medicaid coverage for things like birth control and cancer screenings.

Michaud supported bills backed by anti-abortion groups when he first entered Congress, but his campaign says he has evolved on the issue over the years and is now a strong proponent of abortion rights.

LePage opposes abortion on a personal level but hasn’t introduced legislation to limit it since taking office in 2011.

A month before critical midterm elections, Michelle Obama is putting her popularity and influence to the test, trying to help elect Democratic candidates and give her husband a fighting chance to complete his agenda.

Mrs. Obama’s campaign swing through New England on Friday includes a stop in Massachusetts to support gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley.

She follows up with a pair of Midwest stops on Tuesday: an appearance with Mary Burke, the Democratic candidate for governor in Wisconsin, and a plug in Chicago for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. President Obama helped raise money for Quinn this week at a Chicago fundraiser.

The first lady also plans appearances this month in Iowa, where Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst are locked in one of the year’s most competitive Senate races, as well as in Michigan for Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer.

“She knows the stakes are high and that’s why she is dedicating a good part of her schedule to making sure Democrats are out there voting in the midterms,” said Tina Tchen, the first lady’s top aide.

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