The woman whose story of economic recovery was showcased by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address is a former Democratic campaign staffer and has been used by Obama for political events in the past.
Rebekah Erler has been presented by the White House as a woman who was discovered by the president after she wrote to him last March about her economic hardships. She was showcased in the speech as proof that middle class Americans are coming forward to say that Obama's policies are working.
Unmentioned in the White House bio of Erler is that she is a former Democratic campaign operative, working as a field organizer for Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).
This also wasn't the first time the White House used the former Democratic campaign staffer as a political prop. Obama spent a "day in the life" of Erler in June so that he could have "an opportunity to communicate directly with the people he's working for every day."
Reuters revealed Erler's Democratic affiliations following that June event, and the Minnesota Republican Party attacked Obama for being "so out of touch with reality that he thinks a former Democrat campaign staffer speaks for every Minnesotan."
Obama used Erler as an example that the economy is getting better. Here is the part of Obama's speech regarding Erler. Her political work goes unmentioned:
Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way.
They were young and in love in America, and it doesn't get much better than that.
"If only we had known," Rebekah wrote to me last spring, "what was about to happen to the housing and construction market."
As the crisis worsened, Ben's business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise. Ben is back in construction – and home for dinner every night.
"It is amazing," Rebekah wrote, "what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times."
America, Rebekah and Ben's story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You're the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it's been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.