"We goofed up. I goofed up," he said of 2008. "But the American people carried us forward."
He then moved onto late-night soiree at Puck's WP24 restaurant, which was expected to rake in $3.75 million. Former President Bill Clinton joined Obama earlier Sunday for a more intimate gathering with elite, longtime donors at the home of entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg.
As Obama played for California cash, his surrogates took to the talk shows to pound the theme that Romney's success in last week's debate was propped up entirely by dishonesty.
The president "was a little taken aback at the brazenness with which Gov. Romney walked away from so many of the positions on which he's run, walked away from his record," said David Axelrod, a top Obama strategist. "That's something we're going to have to make an adjustment for in these subsequent debates."
At the same time, Ann Romney was working to soften her husband's image, a frequent refrain as Romney's campaign seeks to broaden his support among centrist voters in the race's final weeks. Introducing her husband on Sunday, Mrs. Romney called him "a good and decent person" who had helped others throughout his life.
"Now we're going to get a chance for him to really care for others, because we're going to have the chance to see him get people back to work again," she said.
Both campaigns were prepping their running mates for Thursday's vice presidential debate — and working to keep expectations low lest their candidate underperform.
On Sunday Priebus called Vice President Joe Biden "a gifted orator," while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who challenged Romney in the GOP primary, suggested Paul Ryan would hold back on any hostility out of respect for Biden's status as a senior statesman.
Priebus spoke on CNN's "State of the Union." Axelrod spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation" and Gingrich on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Associated Press Writer Josh Lederman contributed to this story from Washington. Peoples reported from Port St. Lucie, Fla.
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