Gov. Martin O'Malley spent the past two days stumping and raising cash for Democrats in Florida and Ohio as the term-limited governor launched into a busy fall travel schedule that will bring him to states crucial for building a potential bid for president in 2016.
On Wednesday, O'Malley demurred in Cleveland when a reporter asked where he was in the process of deciding whether to run for the White House, according to an audio recording of the event obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
"I'm going to do everything I can to help us elected forward-thinking and forward-acting leaders," O'Malley said.
The governor has spent much of the past few years as a surrogate for Democratic candidates, traveling around the country first during a two-year stint as chair of the Democratic Governors Association and more recently as the organization's finance chair.
Next week, he will be stumping for a fellow Democrat running for governor in New Jersey, and later in the month he will give the keynote address at major Democratic fundraiser in Houston. In November, he will headline a gathering of New Hampshire Democrats.
In Cleveland, O'Malley praised former mayor and current Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald in some of the same terms O'Malley has used to describe his own style: "He is a performance-driven leader. He doesn't believe in ideology, he believes in results."
He described FitzGerald, who is running for governor, as part of "a big shift going on" in the Democratic Party as younger leaders focused on pragmatism take office.
O'Malley was scheduled to host a fundraiser for FitzGerald and the Ohio Democratic Party Wednesday evening, an aide said.
The governor criticized Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican elected to office with heavy Tea Party support, for not calling on fellow Ohioan House Speaker John Boehner to end the federal shutdown.
The day before, he hosted fundraiser at a Fort Lauderdale lawfirm for the Florida Democratic Party, then traveled to Tallahassee later Tuesday to give remarks to the Democratic leadership of Florida state lawmakers and hold a dinner there.