Democrat Barack Obama piled up nearly eight million fundraising dollars in a single lucrative night, as anticipation built over his looming choice of White House running mate.
"I will win, don't worry about that," Obama told a crowd of 1,300 people at a fundraiser Sunday night in California, one of three back-to-back events which netted a staggering 7.8 million dollars, his campaign said.
Obama's vow opened a crucial week in his White House duel with Republican John McCain, the last before his party's nominating convention in Denver, with expectations high that he will soon name his vice presidential nominee.
Given the deteriorating economy, "bungled" foreign policy and unpopular Iraq war, Obama said it would be nice if voters would simply think "'Toss the bums out, we're starting from scratch, we're starting over.'"
"These are the knuckleheads who have been in charge -- throw em out. But American politics aren't that simple," he said, arguing people needed to be prodded into voting for change.
And he warned Republicans had a "whole machinery that they're cranking out" full of negative character attacks designed to scare people away from him.
But the Illinois senator, introduced in San Francisco by House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "leader that God has blessed us with at this time," vowed not to make the mistake of previous Democratic nominees in failing to sufficiently repel Repubican assaults.
"Not only do you have a candidate who doesn't take any guff. Not only do you have a candidate who will hit back swiftly and forcefully and truthfully.
"But you've also got American people who are rising up all over the country and saying, enough is enough," said Obama, in remarks detailed in a pool report of the private event distributed by the Obama campaign.
Obama later flew on to New Mexico, to campaign Monday in a key western state, home of Governor Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, seen as an outside possibility for vice presidential nominee.
A frenetic two-and-a-half month sprint is looming for Obama and McCain, with the close race offering tantalizing hopes of victory for both campaigns.
Neither candidate has offered a clear hint of the identity of their running mates, but one potential pick for McCain, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, ruled himself out of the race on Sunday.
Asked by NBC if he would like the job, 37-year-old Jindal said: "No. I've got the job I want."
Possible Obama pick, Virginia governor Tim Kaine, said he didn't think he was in the frame, while Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, coyly told CBS there was nothing to report yet.
Democrats meet in Denver, in the swing state of Colorado, between August 25 and 28, in a convention choreographed to finally salve the wounds of the bitter primary fight between Obama and former Democratic foe Hillary Clinton.
Republicans will anoint McCain in St Paul, Minnesota the following week, leaving the Arizona senator a little longer to wrestle with his choice of running mate.
Then the rivals will clash in presidential debates on September 26 and October 7 and 15, which analysts say could cement the decisions of voters before the November 4 election.
Going into this critical period, the race is remarkably stable, with Obama, 47, vying to become America's first black president, enjoying a steady yet small lead of a few points over McCain in national polls.
The rivals are also closely matched in battlegrounds like Colorado, Virginia, Missouri, Ohio and Florida that hold the key to the White House.