Democrats are deploying First Lady Michelle Obama to the campaign trail to help them retain control of Congress in this fall’s mid-term elections and boost her husband in the 2012 presidential election.

The first lady, who has appeared on the cover of 12 magazines since ascending to the White House nearly two years ago, currently has a 66 percent approval rating. A staunch advocate for military families, she is popular among women as well as among the legions of new young voters who helped put President Obama in office.

But Obama has also had her tough moments in the media. She was criticized during the 2008 campaign for saying that for the first time in her adult life she was proud of her country. More recently, she was taken to task over her vacation in Spain during a time when many Americans struggle for financial balance.

Along the way she has also garnered widespread applause for efforts such as those to curb childhood obesity. Overall, Democrats believe her high popularity could bring them much-needed favor.

But Maryland-based political analyst Ron Walters said that much of the first lady’s success on the campaign trail will depend on how she’s prepared.

“If they send her into districts where the president is unpopular, she’s not going to be able to turn things around,” Walters said. “But if they send her to some districts where she’s popular and she’s got a lot of women and families that she can talk to, then she can make a difference.”

During a recent CNN interview, White House senior advisor David Axelrod was asked how valuable the first lady would be for Democrats between now and Election Day.

“I think she feels strongly about the affirmative things that this administration has done,” Axelrod said. “She’s been a leader on some of them …just last week, the United States Senate passed a bill on child nutrition.”