With 77 days left until Election Day, here are insights into today's highlights in U.S. politics

For now, vice presidential contender Paul Ryan is being dispatched to big battleground states while GOP ticket leader Mitt Romney is doing a pre-convention flurry of fundraisers, often in states where his presence probably won't make much difference in November voting.

Romney on Tuesday was raising cash in Midland and Houston in Texas — a state that's all but sure to vote Republican on Election Day. Ryan campaigned in Pennsylvania, a closely contested state.

At a steel company outside Pittsburgh, Ryan promised to help "fix the mess in Washington."

President Barack Obama campaigned in Ohio, possibly the most crucial swing state of all, and then was heading to Nevada. On Wednesday, he has three fundraisers in usually reliably Democratic New York.

Vice president Joe Biden stumped in Minnesota.

Republicans are holding their convention next week in Tampa, Fla., to nominate Romney and Ryan. Democrats follow a week later in Charlotte, N.C.

Both Obama and Romney are trying to get in as much fundraising now as possible, because time will be more limited after the conventions. Large-scale rallies and debate preparations will take up much of their time.

Without any primary challenges, Obama got a head start on Romney in fundraising. But Romney has been catching up, outraising the president in May, June and July.

Romney and the GOP collected a combined $101 million last month, while Obama and the Democratic party raised $75 million.

Both candidates are declining taxpayer financing for their campaigns, thus avoiding the accompanying limits and restrictions, so both are having to hustle for donations in what will clearly be the most expensive presidential contest ever.

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