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Can we handle a softer, gentler Mitt Romney?

By BEN FELLER and STEVE PEOPLES
October 7, 2012

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally in Apopka, Fla. on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012.
(AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Mitt Romney is showing his softer side, while President Barack Obama works to extend his cash advantage as both men begin a final month sprint to Election Day.

The Republican presidential nominee was spending a second consecutive day campaigning in Florida on Sunday, where he is drawing on the success of his recent debate performance and pressing a populist message.

“These are tough years for the middle class and the poor in America,” he told more than 6,000 supporters Saturday night at an amphitheater in Apopka, Fla., near Orlando.

He later shared his personal connection to three people who have died, including a former classmate who attended one of his rallies despite being wheelchair bound.

Romney said he whispered in his friend’s ear, “I love ya and God bless ya.”

“He died the next day,” he continued. “It’s rare that you get a chance to tell someone how much you love him while you still can.”

The message is part of a larger strategy to emphasize Romney’s compassionate side and centrist political positions as he courts the slice of voters yet to settle on a candidate.

Obama, meanwhile, is trying to recover from a lackluster debate last week that gave his Republican rival some badly needed momentum. The president got some good news of his own when Friday’s jobs report put the nation’s unemployment rate at the lowest level of his presidency.

Obama’s campaign is well positioned to press his message that the nation’s economy is moving in the right direction over the contest’s final month. While polls suggest the race is tightening, Obama and his party have reported raising $181 million in September.

It was their best fundraising month of the campaign and just short of their record of $190 million in the 2008 campaign, also in September. Romney’s campaign has not released its report for the month yet.

Obama was setting out Sunday to collect more campaign cash over two days in California. The state is safely in Obama’s column but drawing his attention because it is rich with Democratic donors.

In what will be his final fundraising trip out West this election, Obama’s celebrity friends — from actors to singers to chefs — will come out in force to help him get others to donate. Obama was expected to raise several million dollars.

Such a dedicated focus on fundraising this late in the campaign underscores the central role of money in swaying votes, particularly in television advertising in the eight to nine states that will decide the outcome.

On Sunday, Obama was holding two fundraisers in Los Angeles. He is also appearing at a small, elite gathering at the home of entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, where Obama will be joined by former President Bill Clinton. His campaign calls the gathering a “thank you event” for longtime donors.

Obama’s main event will be his remarks at a star-studded concert at the Nokia Theatre, marking exactly 30 days until the election. Actor George Clooney and musical guests Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi and Katy Perry will entertain the crowd.

The president will wrap up his night at Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 restaurant, high above the L.A. skyline in the Ritz-Carlton hotel. With 150 people expected at a cost of $25,000 per person, that event alone will raise $3.75 million.

Obama’s trip, in total, will be three days, covering fundraisers in San Francisco and a rally in Columbus, Ohio, the state at the center of both campaign’s efforts.

The only official presidential business on the trip comes Monday in Keene, Calif., where Obama will designate as a national monument the home of Latino leader Cesar Chavez, who died in 1993. Yet even that move has political implications. It is an appeal to Hispanic voters, who supported Obama by a 2-to-1 margin in 2008 and favor him by a similar margin over Romney, polling shows.

The weekend had Obama on a high, and he needed it after a lackluster midweek debate against Romney that gave fresh hope to the challenger’s bid.

Friday brought the news that the unemployment rate has dropped below 8 percent for the first time since Obama took office. And on Saturday, Obama’s campaign reported that the president and his party raised a combined $181 million in September, their most lucrative month of the election. And, belatedly, Obama and his wife celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.

Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign unveiled a new television ad claiming Obama is not telling the truth when he says Romney wants to cut $5 trillion in taxes. The campaign has not said where the ad will run.

Obama’s campaign is also running a new TV ad called “Dishonest,” which carries on the post-debate theme that Romney grossly misrepresented his own positions as well as Obama’s on taxes. Online videos were posted by the campaign with the mantra, “Romney won’t tell the truth,” about Medicare, energy, taxes and more.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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4 Responses to Can we handle a softer, gentler Mitt Romney?

  1. Sandy Price

    October 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

    The softer side of Romney? Not if one is a woman with two daughters and one grand daughter! Not if one has any number of gay friends! Not if one has ,many favorite neighbors who are Latinos.

    I had one thought that might take me back to being a Republican and that would be if Romney had a long intense discussion with Mitch McConnell about allowing several of Obama’s bills to be discussed and passed because America would gain from these actions. But No! Romney wants to win the White House more than fix America. There is no softer side of Romney because he will do only what the Prophet in Salt Lake City tells him to do.

    • blutodog

      October 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Softer what? What I saw Wed. was a bully doing his best to make his victim cower and Barry sure played the role. I’m not sure RMONEY can keep up the MO though. He’s a bully face to face but once out on the road he falls back on his old habits of just blabbing away like he’s in front of some Corp. board or another. Barry on the other hand now has a perception problem to overcome of being a wimp when confronted and that doesn’t play well as Commander and Chief to anyone. We’ll see, if RMONEY can win the next two debates going away then I’ll maybe put my $$ on him at that pt. Why? Because, in the end the Reptiles own the M$M and have their own media as well. Kerry won all 3 debates in 2004 and lost but he didn’t have the media advantage RMONEY has. On the other hand Obama knows now that he has to be a lot less wimpy in the next two debates and we can count on a real fist fight, maybe.

  2. Mark Thomason

    October 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    No he is not showing a softer side. He is boldly lying. He is showing us his complete contempt for us.

  3. Danny Adams

    October 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    “It’s rare that you get a chance to tell someone how much you love him while you still can.”

    No it’s not, if telling those you love that you love them is actually among your top priorities.