(CNN) – Following weeks of questions over Mitt Romney's personal wealth, the presumptive GOP nominee said Thursday that criticism of the nation's wealthy, including his family, would lead to economic demise.
"There are people who are trying to attack success and are trying to attack our success; that's not going to be successful," Romney said in an interview to air Thursday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." "When you attack success you have less of it, and that's what we've seen in our economy over the last few years."
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The 2012 presidential campaign has centered on debate over Romney's wealth this summer, with President Barack Obama's team raising concerns about the Republican's decision to hold offshore investments and calling on Romney to release tax documents to answer any lingering queries about his financial portfolio.
The White House hopeful has firmly stated he would not release anything further than the two years worth of tax documents that he has already released and annual financial disclosure forms separately required by federal election law.
Romney, whose wealth is worth up to $256 million, has also been railed against over his tenure at the private equity firm he co-founded, Bain Capital. Democrats argue he has been misleading about when exactly he left his position as CEO at the company, saying he stayed on three years longer than he's previously admitted-a time window, Democrats say, in which he would have overseen a period in which the company is now being criticized for encouraging the practice of outsourcing.
Along with defending his personal wealth, Romney and Republicans have strongly stood against Obama's recent proposal to raise taxes on households making more than $250,000 per year, arguing such a move would have a negative impact on the economy and discourage growth.
"Dividing America based on who has money and who hasn't – who is successful and who is less successful… That is not the American way," Romney said.
Obama, defending his tax proposal, has frequently said his policies are not aimed as an attack on the wealthy.
"This has nothing to do with me wanting to punish success. We love folks getting rich. I do want to make sure that everybody else gets that chance as well." Obama said at a campaign stop in Iowa earlier this month. "For us to give a trillion dollars worth of tax breaks to folks who don't need it and aren't even asking for it, that doesn't make sense."
Romney made his comments during a sit-down interview in London, with his wife Ann by his side. The former Massachusetts governor, who headed the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, is in town to attend Friday's opening ceremony for this year's Olympic Games. The stop in London marks the first leg of a three-country trip, which also takes him to Israel and Poland over the next week.
Romney also pointed to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who Romney has admitted his campaign was considering–among others–for his running mate, and quoted a statement the freshman senator frequently makes about class warfare rhetoric.
"I heard Marco Rubio the other day, he said, 'You know, we were poor living in Miami, we saw these big homes across town…my parents never said to us, gee why don't those people give to us some of what they have. They said instead, aren't we lucky to live in a country where with education and hard work we might be able to achieve that ourselves'."
Democrats have especially hammered Romney over his former firm, Bain Capital. Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama super PAC, has released multiple commercials this summer highlighting companies that failed–and their subsequent job losses–after being invested in by Bain. While the company has said most of its companies have succeeded, Romney gave rare insight on Thursday into some of the firm's failures.
"It killed us if something was not successful. If a business we started, for instance, couldn't make it-and there were several like that-but there were several that took off in ways that we never would have imagined. There are a number of businesses that were existing businesses we wanted to make better. Most of them we did make better. Those that we didn't, we felt terrible about," he said.
In the wide-ranging interview, Romney also discussed his position on gun rights in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre that left 12 dead and dozens wounded.
The former governor has said in recent days he sees no need for new gun legislation, arguing that people who want to do harm will find a way to get around any further laws.
"The real point has to relate to individuals that are deranged and distressed and to find them, to help them and to keep them from carrying out terrible acts," he said. "Timothy McVeigh, how many people did he kill? With fertilizer? With products that can be purchased legally anywhere in the world, he was able to carry out vast mayhem." '
He added: "Somehow thinking that laws against the instruments of violence will make violence go away, I think is misguided."
Obama on Wednesday made headlines by making his strongest comments yet as president about gun violence. While he called for change, he did not specifically outline any proposals for new gun legislation.
"A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals," Obama said at the National Urban League convention in New Orleans. "That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."
The president emphasized a need for background checks and the prevention of "mentally unbalanced" individuals from obtaining guns. He faulted opposition in Congress for lack of progress made in reducing violence.
"These steps shouldn't controversial. They should be common sense," Obama said.
– Watch the full interview at 9 p.m. ET on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.
Will someone please save this clown from himself?
Romney Your too mcuh success cause you to be out of touch with reality.
God forbid anyone should criticize the robber barons who got us into this economic hole with their greed, corruption and total disregard for the working public.
Mitt is high class trash
With his MBA and JD degreees from harvard, Mr. Romney comes across as another Donald Trump. No one criticizes success through fair means and becoming rich. Criticism comes when you get rich through crookish means and claim to a job producer and benovalent.
Were not upset that you are successful Mitt. We are mad that you are successful and think you can hide your money offshore then run for president and spend everyone else's money. Just pay your fair share, you pay a lower percentage than the FICA and SS tax on the poor that "don't pay taxes". They don't pay income taxes but they pay more taxes than you.
I think the GOP was joking about wanting to win this year. What an airhead.
Now just criticizing the wealthy will lead to economic demise? With a threat statement like that this guy is his own worst enemy. Republicans please shut this guy up if you want the White House back.
Successful tax evasion. Successful robbery from the middle class. Successful deception by the neo-cons to send our soldiers for war to serve the elite interests.
Success???? What success? What did this guy do that was so successful? If making money off of other peoples' misery is how this guy defines success, I want no part of him.
I don't think the people are against success they only want the rich to pay there share of taxes
I am relatively poor, but have always worked and have held decent professional jobs. I do not begrudge those that have acquired more wealth than me, but I do believe they have an unfair advantage when it comes to paying taxes. I just would like to see the loopholes tightened on the taxes.
The human ego is a funny thing. Once a person has achieved a certain success in life, he/she has a tendency to want to take all the credit for that success for themselves. What conservatives don't want to admit is that success of every kind is a team effort. And the biggest member of our success team is the US government. It is the government that builds the infrastructure on which people build their success. I just don't get it. Are conservatives really that selfish, or just stupid?
No one is against individual's success. This is all about taxes. Everyone wants to pay less. Except the Rich people seem to get away with not paying as much, and than expect people to make the difference by cutting social service people need. ROmney does not want to pay taxes on his 100 million in his tax free IRA. How is that fair???
Why hasn't anyone thought of this...... if the rich were taxed more, resulting in less personal wealth, don't you think they would work HARDER to regain their previous level of wealth by, hmmmm... creating new businesses, expanding markets, hiring more people? Wouldn't THAT just be (greedy) human nature??
Romney, Too much success cause you to be out of touch with reality. Like the common working man does not like to hear you want to hear you are elated about firing workers. etc.,
The problem is not people being rich but not sharing it with others. Capitalism works if the rich/successful share the wealth by creating living wage jobs. Romneys statement assumes the rich are doing their part which they are not. No one cares if the rich get richer if they have a good job and are ok. Share the wealth or lose it – your choice.
The mega wealthy need to stop passing laws that give them tax breaks and what amounts to being government welfare and then on top of it, throwing it in our faces and using job creation as a blackmail tool to get what they want.
These people have no clue what their greed is doing to the average American worker.
Keep raising prices and not salaries and you'll find out.
all you morons out there listen up. Romney has a point. I cant' wait until you wake up and realize that hey, this guy is the best president ever!!
Actually, that has been the American way for two hundred years under the so-called free market, and it's the JOB CREATORS who are responsible for doing so. I am not against profit and I'm certainly not against hard work in pursuit of something better. But what I am against is the rampant GREED that drives companies to squeeze people for every dollar since making only $4 billion in profit is so 1990s.
It's not that the GOP always has bad ideas, but they are based on the assumption that people will do what they are supposed to do, and in our money-driven (not God driven) country that is not reality. I posted an example on another website using Ricky Williams as an example. In 1999, he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and chose Master P as his agent (someone with no experience). What the team did was lowball and strongarm him into a contract that compared to others was pennies on the dollar. Now, Ricky Williams should have been more responsible in choosing an agent, but the team should have been more responsible in offering him a contract reflecting his true market value.
I say all this to say that personal responsibility runs two ways, and that sometimes chasing every dollar is not always in the best interests or even responsible. Besides, what profit is there if you gain the world but lose your soul?
It is not success that is being attacked, it is the cost of "success" for a very small few, that also are able to excet great power, that comes at a cost to others. Jobs, education, opportunity in many forms. The strength and greatness of a nation is not measured by the enormity of wealth in the hands of very few, but the status of the middle and lower class. This makes business sense too if you think about it, because the middle class and poor, collectively have vastly more money to spend. This is good for business as well. Romney and his fraternity of supporters have a concept of winner-take all and at any cost. The only notive is profit. That is all he means by the word "success" and it belies a deeper lack of character and values in the man. Success is not measured by the size of your bank account, but by the happiness you have in your life, and the happiness you give to others. So I dont see anyone attacking success. I see an attack on greed, and that is a good thing. That is a war we need to fight. Romney would be best to be reminded of the evil of greed and its status as one of the deadly sins. One would think, that as a Bishop in his church, he would understand that...but apparently not.
What defines "success", Mitt? If it's personal income at the expense of others (jobs, unpaid taxes, etc...) you're damn right we're going to criticize it.
Poor people pay lots of people. How do you think anyone in retail makes money? One rich guy buys everything? Get a clue, poor people do pay you and the more they have the more they spend. Romney has so much he has to hide it places and he never contributes by hiding his cash.
Who is John Galt? Do people not just laugh when they see this article and think of Ayn Rand. Chick was right...
I do not have as much problem with success as I do success as the unfair expense of others.