The Daytona Beach News-Journal, David Massey, Associated Press
MANSFIELD, Ohio — President Barack Obama squeaked out a fundraising victory over Mitt Romney in August as the candidates gear up for the final stretch of their closely contested campaign.
Obama raised more than $114 million, while Romney topped $111 million, according to numbers the rival campaigns released Monday. It's the first time in four months that the Democrats have raised more than Republicans. It's also a sharp increased for the president, who raised $75 million in July.
Despite Obama's advantage in August, it's the third straight month that Romney has collected more than $100 million, and the figure represents his best one-month fundraising total. Romney has socked away more money for the general election.
Campaigning Monday in the critical battleground of Ohio, Romney went after Obama on jobs and pledged that he and GOP running mate Paul Ryan will get Americans working again and for higher wages, too.
"America does not have to have the long face we have right now under this president," Romney said in Mansfield.
The Republican nominee also took a veiled swipe at Obama and his Democrats for omitting any reference to God in the platform the party adopted at its convention last week, then doing an abrupt and embarrassing about-face to include it.
Romney said America is a "nation under God" and that, if he's lucky enough to become its president, "I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square and I will not take it out of the platform of my party."
Before arriving in Ohio, the Republican hopeful showed signs of taking a new, more centrist tack toward health care and defense spending.
Romney said in an interview that aired Sunday that he would keep in place elements of the federal health care law Obama signed in 2010. On NBC's "Meet the Press," Romney said: "I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place."
Campaign aides said Romney's endorsement of parts of Obama's Affordable Care Act was consistent with his previous position that those who haven't had a gap in coverage shouldn't be denied coverage.
The comments brought renewed attention to the similarities between the bill Obama signed and the one Romney put in place as governor of Massachusetts.
Romney aides dismissed the idea that his comments about defense cuts or health care were an effort to appear less partisan with the race for undecided voters under way.
"Repealing Obamacare is a focus because it costs too much and the taxes and regulations are hurting small business. That's common sense," spokesman Kevin Madden said. "Affordability and portability of health care insurance aren't partisan issues."
Romney also faulted congressional Republicans for going along with the White House on a budget deal that has set up automatic spending cuts to defense spending — a deal his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, helped steer.
Obama spent Monday at the White House, after spending the weekend campaigning in Florida.
On Sunday, the president focused Floridians' attention on the GOP ticket's stand on Medicare, an issue that's been more favorable to Democrats.
At a rally in Melbourne, Obama told about 3,000 voters that Romney wants insurers to profit at the expense of working people.
"No American should have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies," he said.
Romney and Ryan support allowing seniors in the future to choose between standard Medicare or a fixed payment to be used to buy private insurance.
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