WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has stashed $181 million into his re-election account to cheer supporters after his limp debate performance, but several polls show movement toward Republican Mitt Romney.
Obama’s camp Saturday announced its biggest monthly haul of the 2012 race with its September fundraising figures, a day after supporters got another fillip with news that the U.S. unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent.
Yet there were signs that Republican Romney’s confident debate joust with the president was softening support for Obama in the battlegroundstates that will decide who will control the White House for the next four years.
In Gallup’s daily poll, Romney cut the president’s lead from 49 to 46 percent, and other national polls and state surveys showed movement to the Republican, who appeared before 6,000 people in Florida Saturday.
It will be the middle of the coming week until Wednesday’s debate and Friday’s Labor Department data, which showed the tumble in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent, are fully factored into state of the race polls.
The president, recuperating after his debate mauling from Romney in Denver Wednesday night, took time out Saturday to wine and dine his wife Michelle in a belated celebration of their 20th wedding anniversary.
The Obamas left the White House to have dinner at a Georgetown steak house, with the suddenly competitive race giving them plenty to chew on.
Obama’s fundraising bonanza means he will have ample money to splash on an advertising blitz in the countdown to the election on Nov. 6.
The funds are also an impressive display of grassroots muscle, with the focus of rival campaigns now turning from spinning reporters to driving out core voters.
Romney has yet to reveal his monthly fundraising figures for September, but early predictions that he would outspend Obama by a distance in the final days of the election appear to have been unfounded.
Romney, however, does have the support of an array of super PAC independent fundraising committees financed by rich donors and corporations that can spend unlimited sums to attack Obama and overpower similar Democratic organizations.
The Republican campaign also made known after Obama announced his fundraising gold mine that Romney had raked in $12 million in online donations in 48 hours after the debate.
The question now is whether any boost Obama gets from Friday’s jobs number will curtail the expected bounce Romney will enjoy from the debate.
The new Labor Department data of 7.8 percent showed level of unemployment since the president walked into the Oval Office in January 2009.
Obama seized on the news to rebut Romney’s criticisms of his economic strategy. He also warned that after having come so far, America could not afford to go back to Republican economic policies, which he said triggered the crisis.
But in his weekly radio address Saturday, Obama acknowledged that too many Americans were “still looking for work or struggling to pay the bills” and urged Congress to act to alleviate their plight.