Governors urge Md. Democrats to back Obama

The Baltimore Sun

Two of Hillary Clinton's strongest Mid-Atlantic region supporters joined forces last night to rally Maryland Democratic activists for Barack Obama. The effort will probably result in Maryland volunteers heading to neighboring states.

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said they are committed to Obama's election despite their early support for Clinton.

The two governors, along with Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and the six Democratic members of the state congressional delegation, appeared at a $1,000-a-person fundraiser at the Iguana Cantina in Baltimore that raised $100,000 for the state Democratic Party's election-year efforts for president and Congress.

With Maryland considered certain to go Democratic, O'Malley said activists would be asked to head elsewhere for door-to-door campaigning in the fall.

"We have never been this united," O'Malley said. "We can send troops to Pennsylvania. We can send troops to Virginia. We can send troops to West Virginia."

O'Malley said Maryland Democrats would be active rather than waiting for the national presidential campaign to provide the money and marching orders.

In an interview, Rendell said the Obama campaign has hard work ahead to carry the swing state of Pennsylvania. Democrats would need to register about 100,000 more voters, and Obama and his surrogates have to make direct appeals to "the most strongly feminist women" who were Clinton supporters but "aren't there yet" for Obama, Rendell said.

The working-class voters whom Obama called "bitter" and said were clinging to guns and religion leading up to the Pennsylvania primary are not lost to the Obama campaign, Rendell said.

"Those voters are going to vote pure pocketbook," he said, adding that Obama needed to stress his economic prescriptions more.

Last night's Democratic fundraiser was billed as a unity event that would bring together Clinton and Obama supporters and attract political leaders from across the region. But two planned guests were no-shows. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, mentioned as a possible Obama running mate, canceled his appearance, blaming scheduling conflicts. Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty also was expected but did not attend.

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