[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/29/art.obamakaine.gi.jpg caption="Kaine is one of Obama's most ardent backers."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - With vice presidential speculation reaching fever pitch, Barack Obama's campaign said Tuesday that the Democrat will campaign in central Virginia later this week alongside V.P. contender Gov. Tim Kaine.
Kaine and Obama will host an invitation-only town hall meeting on Thursday in Chesterfield County, a suburb of Richmond. Kaine's sturdy performance in the traditionally conservative Richmond suburbs helped vault him to the governorship in 2005.
Kaine, the former mayor of Richmond, is widely regarded as one of the three top candidates for a slot on the Democratic ticket, along with Delaware Senator Joseph Biden and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.
Obama has scheduled a campaign event for Saturday at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where he kicked off his presidential bid - but the campaign would neither confirm or deny whether the candidate will appear with his running mate.
Obama will also stump in the commonwealth on Wednesday with Virginia’s other two Democratic stars, Senator Jim Webb and former Governor and current Senate candidate Mark Warner, who is scheduled to keynote the Democratic National Convention in Denver.