(Updated 3:04 p.m. ET with Hurt campaign response)
(CNN) - In a last-minute add to his schedule, President Obama has decided to campaign at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday for freshman Rep. Tom Perriello, one of the most vulnerable House Democrats in the nation, according to two Democratic officials.
Perriello has become a hero to some on the left for voting in favor of much of Obama's agenda - including the trifecta of the stimulus, health care reform, and cap-and-trade energy legislation - despite representing the heavily conservative Fifth Congressional District in Virginia.
While Perriello has also bucked the White House on issues like gun control and bailouts in order to establish some independence, he has taken a lot of heat back home for his high-profile votes on the administration's top initiatives.
Democratic officials privately say the Obama visit is a thank you to someone who has put his career on the line for the president. It is important symbolically for him to go to bat for Perriello because House Democrats have been upset that much of the president's calendar in recent days has been focused on trying to save Senate Democratic incumbents.
Many Democratic officials privately believe it will be extremely difficult for Perriello to beat back a strong challenge from Republican state senator Robert Hurt, especially since the freshman was only elected by 727 votes in 2008.
But the officials say they're hopeful that a presidential visit could rally just enough Democrats to help Periello pull out a victory, with a little help also from third-party conservative candidate Jeffrey Clark, who is pulling votes from Hurt.
The Republican opponent's campaign was quick to latch on to what they see as the downside of a potential visit. Hurt's spokesman emailed a statement, all too happy to tie Periello with President Obama:
"We gladly welcome President Obama to the 5th District as he campaigns on behalf of his favorite Congressman, Tom Perriello. His visit will further solidify the idea in the minds of voters that Congressman Perriello has been nothing more than a lap dog for the job killing Obama-Pelosi agenda, representing their interests, not the interests of Central and Southside Virginians. The Obama-Perriello rally will be a great time for the pair to explain to voters how their failed policies have led to over 11,000 jobs lost in the District, skyrocketing debt, a government takeover of health care, and an intrusive federal government." said Amanda Henneberg, Hurt campaign spokesman.
The White House had already confirmed that Obama will travel to four states this weekend. He will headline campaign events in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Illinois on Saturday and then will stump in Ohio on Sunday, which is expected to be his last big event before Tuesday's midterm election.