— APOPKA, Fla. (AP) — 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.