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Obama Edges Romney in August Fundraising Race

President Obama; photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama calls a supporter during a visit Sunday to a campaign field office in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

With 56 days to go until Election Day and crucial debates ahead, the presidential campaigns are neck-and-neck in the fundraising race.

President Obama’s re-election team announced early Monday morning their effort hauled in $114 million during August, while Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $111.6 million in the same period.

The president’s team said the money raised by the campaign and the Democratic National Committee came from more than 1.1 million donors. The announcement comes after weeks of Democratic emails saying they would be out-raised by Republicans and stories that Mr. Obama was spending more than he was raising on campaign infrastructure across the country.

Campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement, “The key to fighting back against the special interests writing limitless checks to support Mitt Romney is growing our donor base, and we did substantially in the month of August.”

“That is a critical downpayment on the organization we are building across the country — the largest grassroots campaign in history,” Messina said.

Romney’s numbers come from the campaign and the Republican National Committee. Together with state parties, the GOP has about $168.5 million in the bank, the campaign said.

Romney Victory national finance chairman Spencer Zwick and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said: “Americans are not better off than they were four years ago and they are looking for a change of leadership. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are offering bold solutions to our country’s problems — that is why we are seeing such tremendous support from donors across the country.”

The president’s team warned supporters in a late-night tweet: “No celebrating, because they’re going to have an even bigger September. But now we know we can match them, doing this our way.”

The funds are likely to bolster more ads in the handful of battleground states that will make the difference on Nov. 6.

Team Obama says the president feels good about his standing in the swing states, and whether he gets any so-called “bounce” from the Democratic National Convention is not a concern in Chicago. Instead, they see a tied race in North Carolina, a state the Associated Press still tags as in the GOP column, and the president with a slim lead in other critical battlegrounds, including Ohio. Obama aides say they will be prepared to invest in Wisconsin if, as Republicans suggest, it starts to slide away from the Democrats over the next few weeks.

The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg explored the factors likely to influence the contest in a Sunday front-page story and found the campaigns agree on the territory that’s likely to decide the election outcome. They also looked ahead to the dates when the men will meet on a debate stage:

The president, whose advisers have known him to procrastinate before preparing for big moments, has been studying his rival’s positions and statements from the primary campaign. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts will play the role of Mr. Romney in debate practice.

Mr. Romney may be a little further ahead in his preparations. His aides began putting blocks of time in his schedule shortly after he emerged from the primaries in the spring. He started formal practice sessions last week at a remote estate in Vermont, where Senator Rob Portman of Ohio played the role of Mr. Obama.

Tens of millions of people will watch the debates — four years ago, viewership ranged from 52 million to 63 million — almost certainly a much bigger television audience than the totals for the conventions.

The first debate is still more than three weeks away, and Romney appears intent on using that time to broaden his appeal with independents by moderating his tone on certain issues. The latest sign of that shift toward the center came Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where the GOP hopeful said he would keep parts of the health care law signed by the president in 2010.

“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,” Romney said, citing examples of covering people with pre-existing conditions and setting up new insurance marketplaces.

You can watch the full Romney interview on NBC below.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Host David Gregory also asked Romney to identify specific tax loopholes he would close if elected.

“Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions,” Romney said. “Those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise they’d get a tax break. And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high income taxpayers.”

The president seized on those comments to slam the tax proposal put forward by the GOP ticket.

“President Clinton pointed out that the single biggest thing missing from my opponent’s plan is arithmetic — math. Gov. Romney and his allies tell us we can somehow lower our deficit by spending trillion more dollars on new tax breaks for the wealthy,” the president said during a campaign event Sunday in Melbourne, Fla.

“I mean, listen, you’ve got to do the math, because when my opponents were asked about it today, they couldn’t. It was like two plus one equals five,” Mr. Obama said.

The Obama campaign followed up on that line of attack Monday, releasing a web video hammering Romney and Ryan for failing to provide specifics about their tax plan.

POST-CONVENTION EXAMINATION

Team NewsHour evaluated the conventions on Friday both online and on air. Gwen Ifill offered her take on lessons learned from each convention.

Correspondent Margaret Warner sat down with Virginia voters to take their temperature on the president’s acceptance speech. She found that a few of them made up their mind on how to vote in November, while others remain on the fence about whether the president should win a second term.

(These were the same undecided voters Ray Suarez met with following Romney’s speech the week before.)

Watch Friday’s segment here or below:

Judy Woodruff talked with Mark Shields and David Brooks to get their assessment of the state of the race following back-to-back conventions and a new jobs report.

David said:

Well, you know, it’s part of 43 months of that we keep hearing, oh, we shouldn’t react to one jobs report. We have had 43 of them.

And, to me, the worst part about it is, if we were scuffling along slowly, moving uphill, then you could say one thing, but 2012 is worse than 2011. We’re not moving uphill. We’re moving gradually downhill.

And so that is bad. And so that’s why — that’s really the — I thought the president’s — my problem with the president’s speech was incrementalism, the idea that we have got these policies in place, and, incrementally, we’re moving forward.

I don’t think, incrementally, we’re moving forward. I think, incrementally, we’re — we’re either staying the same or scuffling a little downhill. And, so, to me, that’s the significance of the jobs number, that not — not only no slow progress, lack of progress.

Mark talked about fundraising expectations:

Money becomes determinative when states become in play and you can force your opponent to defend his turf. That’s exactly what Barack Obama did in 2008 against John McCain by spending and outspending him in states like Virginia, which had not voted Democratic since 1964, North Carolina, which had not voted Democratic since 1976.

You go into states like that and start spending money, which Republicans, with limited funds then, didn’t expect to defend. And now you have got President Obama. If you — do you go into Wisconsin and spend a bundle? Do you go into Michigan, whatever, to tie up the president? I mean, that’s what it does. It gives you more — more tactical latitude.

Mark also said the first candidate who shows humor on the debate stage will surge.

Watch here or below:

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Here is the NewsHour’s look at how the jobs report could impact the presidential race.
  • In a new web video, the Republican National Committee mashed up the president’s convention speech with his previous addresses to suggest his tune hasn’t changed.
  • Bob Woodward talked with Diane Sawyer about his new book and “gaps” he found in the president’s leadership when it came to negotiating with Congress on a debt deal.
  • The Wall Street journal finds winners in the campaign ad spending contest: swing state television stations.
  • Politico’s Charles Mahtesian looks at the nine states that will decide the contest.
  • A new automated survey by left-leaning Public Policy Polling gives the president a 50 percent to 45 percent advantage over Romney in Ohio following the conventions. PPP also found the race in North Carolina remains a tossup, with the president holding a 49 percent to 48 percent lead, well within the survey’s plus-or-minus three percent margin of error. In its write up of North Carolina, PPP determines it will be a “swing state to the end.”
  • You can watch a pop-up video fact-check of the president’s convention speech here.
  • The president’s campaign on Friday said more than 14,500 volunteers took part in the 9-3-1 program to give time in exchange for a ticket to his acceptance speech. Of those, 75 percent were new to the organization. The campaign said they already have collected more voter registration forms in the state this year than they did in all of 2008.
  • The Root’s Helena Andrews looks at first lady Michelle Obama following her big week at the convention.
  • The president got an unexpected lift during a visit Sunday to an Italian restaurant in Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Don’t forget you can see nearly all of the speeches and convention segments on our YouTube page and all of the images taken by our freelance photographers on the ground on our Flickr page.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Chicago teachers will strike with no contract deal in place.
  • The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman and Jason Horowitz report on the waiting game playing out in the Missouri Senate race between Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and GOP challenger Todd Akin.
  • With Congress returning late Monday, members will face angry farmers, the New York Times reports.
  • Politico’s Scott Wong writes that “meaningless votes and theatrical hearings will be the order of the day” on Capitol Hill.
  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller trailed Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed during the convention in Charlotte, N.C., and finds the Democrat’s stock rising, while the paper’s Abby Livingston shadowed Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland as she took her moment in the spotlight.
  • Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly is using Rep. Paul Ryan in a new television spot targeting his Indiana Senate rival Republican state treasurer Richard Mourdock.
  • Clint Eastwood talked with his local paper the Carmel Pine Cone about how the chair was something he came up with on the fly before coming on stage.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney attends an event in Mansfield, Ohio, at 3 p.m.
  • Paul Ryan travels to Portland, Ore., for debate prep.
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden have no public events scheduled.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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