WASHINGTON - Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to appear tomorrow at a Barack Obama event designed to portray unity among Democratic governors and to illustrate an economy that party leaders say has weakened during a Republican administration.
Obama has invited Democratic governors to Chicago for an "economic discussion." The campaign has not disclosed a full list of attendees, but O'Malley's office confirmed his participation.
O'Malley was an early backer of Sen. Hillary Clinton, and he is among a group of Democratic governors who are now pivoting to show support for Obama.
Maryland went heavily for Obama in the February primary and is considered a solidly Democratic state this year. But some large states led by Democratic governors and won by Clinton during the primaries, particularly Pennsylvania and Ohio, are considered battlegrounds in the general election.
That makes any visible campaign appearances by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G, Rendell and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland more significant.
A Quinnipiac University Poll released yesterday showed Obama leading Republican John McCain in Ohio and Pennsylvania, reflecting gains since Clinton ended her candidacy.
Quinnipiac's late-May swing-state survey had Obama trailing in both states.
Tomorrow's meeting will mark the first time that O'Malley has appeared at a campaign event with Obama since endorsing the Illinois senator, said spokesman Rick Abbruzzese.
With rising gas prices and home foreclosure rates, Obama and McCain have made the economy a focus of their campaigns.
O'Malley supports a second stimulus package that would spend money on infrastructure in the states and efforts to make college education more affordable so the work force is well-trained for when the economy rebounds, Abbruzzese said.
Twenty-eight states and three territories have elected Democratic governors, according to the Democratic Governors Association. Those states represent 294 of 538 electoral votes; 270 are needed to win the presidency.