BETHESDA, Md. (NewsChannel 8) - U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez joined Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley at a Bethesda restaurant Thursday to promote a higher federal minimum wage.
But at the photo op, reporters' questions were focused on relations between Governor O'Malley and the Obama administration after a very public disagreement over another political issue: the deportation of immigrant children.
Obama is pursuing a fast-track to deport most of the children. O'Malley says they face "certain death" if deported.
Aides say the joint appearance by O'Malley and Perez on Thursday was scheduled weeks ago, before any of this squabbling surfaced. It's also important to note Perez was the Governor's Labor Secretary in Maryland from 2007 through 2009, before joining the president's cabinet.
Thursday, both men downplayed any talk of tension between O'Malley and Obamaor his White House.
"The president looks at Maryland as a real example to the nation, and the governor's leadership as an example to the nation," Perez said.
O'Malley quickly added, "And no president has ever picked a better labor secretary."
O'Malley and Perez appeared at the Boloco burrito shop in downtown Bethesda, calling on Congress to pass a higher federal minimum wage.
O'Malley told reporters, "The vast majority of issues, we see eye to eye on. And certainly, we're eye to eye on the goal here."
O'Malley's tone was quite different a couple days ago, discussing immigration reform with Fusion's Jorge Ramos.
During the interview, O'Malley disputed claims by White House officials that he refused to open a group facility for some Central American children in Marylandafter strongly criticizing the Obama administration's efforts to fast-track child deportations. O'Malley said he was simply seeking a better option.
"I think, sadly, that was spin and a misrepresentation that some at the White House tried to put out," O'Malley told Ramos.
"I almost feel like this issue is having a bit of an echo," O'Malley said on Thursday. "I thought it was behind us 10 days ago."
"If all of our elected officials agreed with each other on every single issue, we could save a lot of money by not having to hire so many or vote for so many. But on the big issues, we [Obama and O'Malley] agree," he said.
Looking ahead to 2016, O'Malley now acknowledges that he is "seriously considering running."
With polls consistently showing President Obama's low approval ratings, some believe the Governorjust back from a visit to the battleground state of Iowawants to emphasize their differences.
Politico Deputy Breaking News Editor Jedd Rosche said, "I think Martin O'Malley has plenty to gain from differentiating himself, particularly if he finds a more passionate wing of the liberal or left wing of the Democratic Party. I think, if he can ignite certain audiences within the party, it might help him actually stand out in a field that's overwhelmed by Hillary Clinton and, if not her, Joe Biden."