"The debate was huge and we've seen our numbers move all across the country," Romney's wife, Ann, said in an interview on Philadelphia radio station WPHT. She talked about the larger crowds her husband has been drawing in the aftermath of that first face-off. "That's what you call momentum," she said.
Much of the pressure in the coming debate will be on Obama, who aides acknowledge showed up at the first face-off with less practice — and far less energy — than they had wanted. Romney, who has made no secret of the huge priority his campaign puts on the debates, practiced Monday at a hotel near his home in Massachusetts.
Romney's advisers suggested the Republican nominee would continue to moderate his message — in tone, if not substance — as he did in the Oct. 3 meeting to help broaden his appeal to the narrow slice of undecided voters. In recent days, Romney has promised his tax plan would not benefit the wealthy, emphasized his work with Democrats as Massachusetts governor and downplayed plans to curtail women's abortion rights.
Ann Romney focused on the struggles women face in her radio interview. "The numbers don't lie and what the numbers tell us is that more women have been hurt by this economy than men, more women are unemployed, and more women have fallen into poverty in the last four years," she said. "We do hear their voices."
During debate preparations, aides are working on tailoring that message to a debate format. They're also working on balancing aggressive tactics with the debate's town-hall format, which often requires candidates to show a connection with questioners from the audience.
Also Monday, Romney's campaign announced it raised $170.4 million last month with the Republican Party, a little behind Obama's $181 million September haul with the Democratic Party. Romney and the GOP had been raising more money than Obama and the Democrats by mid-summer, but that changed last month. Both candidates are using their millions to expand campaign offices and flood airwaves with television ads in key in the election's final weeks.
Romney's top-flight donors are meeting at New York's tony Waldorf Astoria hotel through Wednesday, getting a chance to mingle with Ryan and attend strategy briefings and policy discussions with senior Romney aides.
The retreat appears to be a scaled-down version of a posh Park City, Utah, gathering this summer for Romney's most generous contributors. There, Romney officials hosted campaign updates and set ambitious fundraising goals for the general election.
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Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Belmont, Mass., and Jack Gillum and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
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