President Obama is raising money in two heavily Democratic cities on Tuesday along with one of his top surrogates, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, as the president works to blunt his Republican opponent's recent fundraising surge.
The fundraisers in Baltimore and Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 8-to-1, mark a shift from the Obama campaign's earlier focus on swing states. The shift comes after Obama and the Democratic National Committee came up $17 million short of Republican fundraising totals last month.
Obama, who has already attended a record 150 fundraisers, begins Tuesday at the home of Owings Mills developer Josh E. Fidler, where guests will pay up to $50,000 to mingle with Obama -- a higher price tag than donors paid to dine with the president at actor George Clooney's Hollywood home last month.
Obama's next stop after Fidler's home is the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Baltimore where he will be joined by O'Malley, a former Baltimore mayor.
O'Malley, head of the Democratic Governors Association, recently returned to Maryland from a four-state campaign swing -- mostly on the president's behalf -- through Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.
In Baltimore Tuesday, O'Malley is expected to argue that Obama's presumptive Republican foe, Mitt Romney, and the GOP are captives to the party's extremist wing.
"These Republican obstructionists wouldn't pass gas if they thought it might help our president heal our economy," O'Malley said in New Hampshire. Romney, he said, "contorted himself into a pretzel to appease his party's radical right."
Two years into his second term, O'Malley is said to be considering a presidential run in 2016, though the governor so far denies any national political ambitions other than helping to re-elect Obama and other Democratic candidates.
But O'Malley has also opened for Republicans a new avenue of attack on Obama. Republicans have zeroed in on O'Malley's multiple tax increases as proof that Democrats remain tax-and-spend liberals.
"Let [O'Malley] go out there and say let's tax everybody more; let's spend everything we got; we are really concerned about the state and local government employees," Karl Rove, a former top adviser to President George W. Bush, told Maryland Republicans over the weekend. "I want to see how far that goes. Even in the Democratic primary, they aren't that dumb."
O'Malley, who four years ago implemented a temporary tax hike on all Marylanders earning more than $1 million, recently approved a plan to raise taxes on all Maryland residents making more than $100,000.
"Gov. O'Malley would rather turn his back on Marylanders while facing the nation to run as a future presidential contender," said Alex Mooney, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. "His record is abysmal and President Obama should find better company if he hopes to be re-elected."
But Democrats defended the president and governor for making "the right investments in the future."
"Mitt Romney and Karl Rove simply want to double down on the same bad Bush policies that caused this economic mess in the first place," said Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Yvette Lewis.
From Baltimore, Obama will travel to Philadelphia for a fundraising reception and dinner before returning to D.C. Obama will also hold campaign events in Ohio and New York this week.