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WASHINGTON - In a surprise show of strength, US President Barack Obama raised $114 million for his re-election bid last month, beating Mitt Romney's monthly haul for the first time since April.
Campaign officials said 1.1 million Americans contributed to Obama's operation during the month to make up the total, which was easily the most lucrative fundraising period for Obama of the 2012 campaign.
"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," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.
"That is a critical downpayment on the organization we are building across the country -- the largest grassroots campaign in history."
Romney raised $111 million in August, his campaign said Monday, meaning Obama topped his Republican rival by $3 million, a significant turnaround after trailing badly in previous months. Romney has about $168.5 million on hand, party officials said.
August fundraising was especially significant as it reflected the public response to Romney's naming of conservative favorite Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick as well as the two party nominating conventions.
During a weekend trip to Florida, Obama courted retirees by lambasting Romney's plans to reform the Medicare health care system for the elderly.
He also picked apart interviews in which the two Republicans declined to name any of the tax loopholes they plan to close to make their twin promises to cut taxes and trim the deficit add up.
"I guess my opponent has a plan but there is one thing missing from it -- arithmetic!" Obama said, resurrecting a killer line from former president Bill Clinton's well-received speech to the Democratic convention last week.
"It was like two plus one equals five. They couldn't answer questions about how they'd pay for $5 trillion in new tax cuts and $2 trillion in new defense spending without raising taxes on the middle class.
'Not bold leadership'
"That's not bold leadership -- that's bad math. That gets a failing grade," said Obama.
In television appearances, Romney and Ryan declined to specify how exactly they would cut loopholes in the tax code to pay for rate reductions.
The Republican nominee, a multi-millionaire, also denied he planned to cut taxes for the rich.
"I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high-income taxpayers," Romney said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
As his armored bus trundled from west to east through Florida, Obama plunged into restaurants, diners and bars, shaking hands and talking to voters.
Florida is a perennial swing state and has the most electoral votes -- 29 -- of all the most contested battlegrounds in the election. Recent polls have shown the president with a narrow lead over Romney.
Large weekend crowds that greeted the president have aides optimistic that Obama can repeat his 2008 victory here. Should he win Florida, the president would severely undermine Romney's hopes of snatching the White House.
"We'll do pretty well in the corridor," a senior Obama aide said, referring to the contested territory along Interstate 4 where Florida elections are won and lost.
"It's going to be close."
Retirees, many fleeing cold northern winters, form an important part of the state's electorate, hence Obama's Medicare attack.
The Republican's plan to convert Medicare to a voucher system over time would end up with patients paying higher out-of-pocket costs, the president charged.
"I want you to know, Florida, I will never turn Medicare into a voucher," Obama said.
The president's Florida trip, however, was marred by a tragedy when a motorcycle police officer escorting his motorcade died after being struck by a vehicle.
Meanwhile, Romney intensified his attack on Obama's stewardship of the economy after the latest Labor Department data showed only 96,000 jobs were generated by the economy last month.
"It's a jobless recovery, if it's a recovery at all," Romney said.
"You're not seeing the kind of job growth that keeps up with population growth. You're not seeing any wage growth. It's not at all what a recovery is supposed to look like," Romney said on "Meet the Press."
The former Massachusetts governor also had a crack at Obama on Iran, saying the president's "biggest failure" was not halting the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions.
Several daily tracking polls detected an increase in Obama's small polling lead following the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, with the Gallup survey now giving him a 49 to 44 percent lead over Romney.
Romney was campaigning in Ohio on Monday, while Ryan was due in Washington state. Obama had no events planned.