Barack Obama said Monday he has asked Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton for a meeting on her terms "once the dust settles" from their race.
"The sooner we can bring the party together, the sooner we can start focusing on John McCain in November," Obama told reporters. He said he spoke with Clinton on Sunday when he called to congratulate her on winning the Puerto Rico primary.
Separately, in an interview with The Associated Press, Obama said he expects to pick up 15 delegates in Tuesday's final contests in South Dakota and Montana and expects superdelegates who have been holding back to then start flocking his way.
"A lot of people recognize that it is going to be time for us to pivot and move on" after Tuesday, Obama told the AP.
On the eve of the final two primaries, the Democratic presidential front-runner campaigned in Michigan and focused on McCain by highlighting the ailing economy. The state is a general election battleground where McCain months ago caused a stir by saying lost manufacturing jobs were not coming back.
Obama is on track to clinch the Democratic nomination as soon as Tuesday's primaries.
"It is my sense that between Tuesday and Wednesday we have a good chance of getting that number" of delegates, he said.
Obama said he apologized again to Clinton for racially charged remarks made by Rev. Michael Pfleger, who mocked Clinton last month during a sermon at Obama's church. Obama has since resigned his 20-year membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ.
In the AP interview, Obama was asked when he expected to start considering running-mate candidates.
"The day after I have gotten that last delegate needed to officially claim the nomination, I'll start thinking about vice presidential nominees. I think it's likely to come this week," he said. "It's a very important decision, and it's one where I'm going to have to take some time."
He said there were a lot of superdelegates who have been private supporters of his but who have wanted to respect the process by not endorsing until now, and he respects that. But he thinks that will change after Tuesday's primaries.
"Once the last votes are cast, then it's in everybody's interest to resolve this quickly so we can pivot. We're less than three months away from our convention. So we've got a lot of work to do in terms of bringing the party together," he told the AP.
Earlier, Obama criticized President Bush's economic policies as being partly to blame for making Michigan the highest unemployment state in the nation. He told a rally and town hall-style meeting at a packed high school gymnasium in the Detroit suburb of Troy that McCain "wants to double down on the Bush economic plan."
As had McCain, Obama acknowledged that "in fairness, some of these challenges are the product of larger forces beyond the control of government." He said industries must learn to retool and retrain workers to keep up with changing trends.
Still, "there is no doubt that the Bush economic policies have done little to help the working families of Michigan or build a better future for America," Obama said.
He sought to reassure divided Democrats that he and Clinton will be working together in November despite fears by some that the Democratic Party will be divided after the long and bitter primary campaign.
Obama told the rally that he understands there have been "some worries about whether the Democratic Party will be divided when it's all over."
"There's been thinking, well, are the Clinton folks going to support the Obama folks and are the Obama folks going to get together with the Clinton folks," Obama said.
"Senator Clinton has run an outstanding race, she is an outstanding public servant, and she and I will be working together in November," Obama said.
Obama campaigned in Michigan two days after being awarded delegates from the state, in which neither he nor any other major Democratic candidate campaigned. Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot. Both parties see Michigan as a key swing state in the general election.
"While we've been talking about a recession in this country for a few months now, Michigan has been living it for a very long time," Obama said. "Workers and communities across this state have been struggling for years with the downturn that all of America is feeling today."
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds called Obama's claims about McCain "pure politics."
"Obama's specifically ignoring John McCain's strong record of fighting wasteful government spending, his comprehensive proposals for displaced workers and his firm opposition to raising taxes on small business and working families during an economic downturn," Bounds said.
A young man who said he was a new driver asked Obama, "When will gas prices go down?"
"We are not going to be able to lower gas prices immediately," Obama said. He said he recognized this caused problems in the short term when "just getting to work is hard these days."
Obama talked about moving toward cleaner energy, and investigating whether energy companies were engaging in price-gouging and market manipulation. "If that's what they're doing ... I intend to go after them as president of the United States," he said.
Ahead of Obama's talk, two more Michigan superdelegates endorsed him.
Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence told the crowd at Troy High School waiting for Obama's arrival that she was supporting the Illinois senator and Michigan Education Association Executive Director Lu Battaglieri says he also is endorsing Obama. That gives Obama seven Michigan superdelegates, tying the number Clinton has in the state.
It was Obama's second visit to Michigan in three weeks to introduce himself to voters.
McCain in January said some of the hard-hit automotive state's jobs were never coming back.
But subsequently, he held out the promise for new jobs for Michigan.
"Of course the old kinds of doing business is not coming back," McCain said in April. "But the new innovation and new technology and green technology that will both eliminate our dependence on foreign oil as well as greenhouse gas emissions is right here in the state of Michigan. But we've got to retrain and educate workers to take advantage of that opportunity."
Associated Press writer Kathy Hoffman in Troy, Mich., contributed to this report.
(This version CORRECTS UPDATES with Obama AP interview; corrects Battaglieri's title to executive director, sted president; ADDS credit line.)