LOS ANGELES -- One day before he leaves for a week-long trip to Europe, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finished up a two-day fundraising trip to California that his campaign said had yielded around $10 million.
Romney attended four fundraisers on Monday, including a morning breakfast with about 400 supporters in Irvine that was open to a small press contingent, followed by private fundraisers at supporters' homes in Malibu and Bel Air. His campaign did not disclose exactly where those private events were being held or who was hosting them.
The presumptive Republican nominee will speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention in Reno on Tuesday before heading to London for more fundraising with U.S. citizens living abroad. He'll attend the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games on Friday, before heading to Israel and Poland for a few days each.
The Obama campaign criticized Romney ahead of his trip on Monday, saying he is inexperienced on foreign policy.
"Mitt Romney is not engaged on these issues. Instead of offering specifics, he’s so far talked only in platitudes and criticized the president," said Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to the campaign.
But Romney has not talked much about foreign policy this year because the election is largely going to be about the economy. And his trip abroad will likely freeze the race in motion, placing him above the partisan bickering and daily back and forth that his campaign has been consumed with for the last few weeks.
It's a good place to be, his campaign believes. Soon after Romney returns, he is expected to name a running mate. If all goes relatively well, the vice presidential pick will be enough to largely get Romney to the GOP convention at the end of August in likely about the same place he is now -- neck and neck with President Barack Obama in most polls.
The Romney campaign is anxious to get through the next month. It has been limited since the primary ended in the spring by campaign finance laws that prohibit it from spending the bulk of the money Romney has raised for the general election. As a result, Obama's reelection campaign has pounded away at Romney in crucial swing states, outspending him on the air by a margin of more than three to one.
At the beginning of June, Obama had spent $91 million in eight swing states, compared to Romney's $23 million.
But Romney is now sitting on a larger war chest than Obama, with about $170 million to Obama's $144 million, according to the Washington Post.
On Monday, Romney waded somewhat cautiously back into a full-throated debate with the Obama campaign, mindful of the shadow still cast across the nation by the shooting of innocent moviegoers in Colorado on Friday. He did comment on reaction to the shooting, offering a subtle critique of the way that some have responded.
Instead of talking about gun control laws, or other ways government might act, he said Americans should think about ways they can help people around them.
"In this country if we don't look so far at all the problems but instead look at our lane, at the people in front of us, at the people whose lives we can affect, and if we just solve the issues and challenges there, why we'll lift the entire nation," he said in Irvine.
"I suggest in a time of trauma and trial that we look around us, instead of looking off far far away and wondering what someone might do to solve that problem, we look close to where we are -- our own lane -- and say, 'What can we do to make a difference?'"
Romney was introduced by a local businessman named Frank Kavanaugh, who told the breakfast crowd that although he had supported Romney in the 2008 GOP primary, and then eventual GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), he had ultimately voted for Obama on election day.
The audience gasped, and there were some boos. Others laughed.
Kavanaugh said that he has been disappointed in Obama: "Hope is not a strategy and nothing has changed," he said, referring to Obama's 2008 "hope and change" slogan.
Romney told the crowd that Kavanaugh was exactly the kind of voter he needs in order to win.
"Anyone who voted for John McCain, almost without exception, is planning on voting for me," Romney said. "And the way I win this election is by getting people who voted for Barack Obama to say he didn't live up to their expectations."
Obama voters from 2008, he said, "are the ones we need. We need to talk to them."
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