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Romney tells voters he is willing to keep parts of 'Obamacare'

WASHINGTON -- The dispute over American health care dominated the presidential race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney altering his stand on President Barack Obama's signature overhaul of the system, telling voters he would keep several important parts of the law that he has vowed to repeal.

Obama focused his attention in the pivotal state of Florida on the Republican ticket's stand on Medicare, the popular government health insurance program for the elderly and an issue that has been more favorable to Democrats.

Romney also said in an interview Sunday with NBC television that it was a “mistake” for congressional Republicans to go along with the White House on a budget deal that set up automatic spending cuts that include huge reductions in defense spending in the new year. His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, helped steer that agreement through Congress.

In his first appearance on NBC's “Meet the Press” program in more than three years, Romney said he wanted to replace the Obama health care plan with one of his own that included some of the most popular provisions of the incumbent's two-year-old law.

“I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place,” Romney said in the interview taped Friday and Saturday. He cited guaranteed coverage for people with preexisting medical conditions, coverage for young people up to age 26 on their parents' plans and new insurance marketplaces.

The Obama plan, dubbed “Obamacare” by opposition Republicans, used as a model Romney's overhaul of the health insurance system in Massachusetts when he was governor of the state.

Romney's Massachusetts law and the one sponsored by Obama both require people to have health insurance. That would bring younger, healthier citizens into the system, lowering the overall risk for insurance companies.

Romney now insists, in line with the stance of his Republican party, that the so-called individual mandate must be repealed, but he offered no proposals on funding his health care plan. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, in suits brought by Republican opponents of the law, that the individual mandate — which establishes a tax penalty for people who don't purchase health insurance —is constitutional.

Obama Nets Hearty August Bounty

In a financial bounce, Obama and the Democrats raised more than US$114 million for his campaign in August, a campaign official says. The total far exceeds Obama's earlier monthly fundraising totals. He trailed Mitt Romney and Republicans in fundraising in July for the third straight month.

Romney's campaign reported it raised US$111 million in August. It's the third straight month the former Massachusetts governor has raised more than US$100 million. The figure represents his best one-month fundraising total.

Clash Over 'Voucher' Impact

The Obama campaign has been trying to change the subject from the economy after a weak government report on employment on Friday, the day after the convention closed.

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