(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.
Is it just me but the more Mitt Rommey talk the more everyone can see he is not the sharpest knife in the kitchen, how do you go to another country and tell them what you believe what is wrong with what they are doing.
Romney just doesn't understand other people. We aren't criticizing success. We're criticizing the lack of equal opportunitiy to become successful. He is born rich and inherits a nice nest egg. Meanwhile, other people, just as deserving, can't find the money to go to college. If he had ever had to REALLY struggle in life, he would be much more sensitive to what the rest of America has to go through.
What else are you gonna say
When you are paying half the rate (on a bad day) as the rest of the country in taxes.
Hey Mitt – show us that 2009 tax return when you paid a zero percent rate – so we can have an honest discussion about success and taxes
"Stop attacking success." I am sure, many successful bank robbers as well as many successful third world warlords would agree. It is not a question of, being or not being successful, it is a question of being successful at what. From what I can see, Romney was successful at making money by sending jobs to China.
Obama knows nothing else but to attack success. He doesn't have a clue what it is as he was handed everything in his life. Didn't earn a thing.
Slashing domestic programs in the middle of an economic crisis and putting the burden on the middle class, the poor and seniors while giving bis tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and filling your pockets is not success, its called FRAUD! Ask Bernie Madeoff!
Nobody is criticizing the *rich* ... what is being criticized is why under Bush economic policies that favored the rich ... made the economy worst.
Nobody is criticizing the *rich* ... the person that is being criticized is Bishop Mittens because he thinks he is qualified to be President. You want to be President, then you better be honest, transparent, and be able to answer the questions of folks who are deciding if you should get their vote.
He represents nothing but hinduism, racism in following of hindu Judaism, filthy self centrism.
Love it, Mitt you need to get aggressive, but if you get elected better get some results, or i'll vote you out, like we all should. The Obama drones have no concept of America, none whatsoever.
Mitt & most Republicans can't seem to get it. It is not wealth, it is not success or luck that Americans dislike.
We do dislike & criticize as to how Mitt or others got their wealth & success. Americans want to know if his success was at the very least ethical?
Release your tax returns, Mitt. Your own father did for 12 years. What exactly are you hiding? If you are self made, as you say you, there's nothing to fear.
You returns might give us a glimpse into what exactly you did at Bain Capital.
No one is attacking business success. There are, however, legitimate questions about the Republican policies and junk economics that have enabled the great transfer of wealth from the poor and middle-class to the wealthiest Americans over the last 30 years!
There are also legitimate questions about the sources and use of Romney's wealth that could be answered by the release of his tax returns. If he aspires to the presidency, he owes clarity to the American people.
Al Capone was super rich and they criticised him right into Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. That is where Romney should be along with his cronies.
Obama knows nothing else but to attack success. He doesn't have a clue what it is as he didn't earn anything he has.
You mean if I made a few million as a consultant convincing a company to outsource thier American operations to another company I would be a hero to the Repubs. A lot millionairs are making money firing and outsourcing Americans
Ummmm...nobody is attacking success. They are attacking people who achieve success on the backs of the middle class by outsourcing jobs and laying off Amkrican workers. They are attacking people who amass further wealth by seeking offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes into our nation's coffers. Most of all they are attacking people who have done both but are now running for president using their past business leadership as a justification to be elected, but then who refuse to answer legitimate questions when challeneged on that very leadership. Especially when such a president could not possibly be impartial when making tax policy.
Romney is really reaching with this one. Did he create his millions? No. His father did. So I guess that means that Mitt had help? Just like Obama's ad that he keeps criticizing. He keeps digging his hole deeper. Sorry Mitt but when it comes to voting for you, I'll pass.
What a load of horse puckey. Insisting that upper-income individuals pay a higher rate isn't "dividing" America. The tax rate for individuals was up to 90% for many years and the economy managed to grow much faster than it is now.
Despite the Republican propoganda, the main controversies are whether Romney paid his fair share of taxes and the "vulture" capitalism practiced by Bain.
No one's attacking success, they're attacking success without ethics and the gall of those making millions every year to refuse to pay 39% instead of 35% in income taxes at the expense of programs designed to help those who have nothing.
Put the money in the hands of people that actually BUY the stuff. All the Romney's of the world just bank their money in foreign countries anyway. There will be NO jobs created till there is DEMAND for the products!!!!.
We have had Bush tax cuts for the last 12 years... WHERE ARE THE JOBS????
Nice try, Mittens, but no one is attacking success. People are questioning the *way* you became successful. If you made your money by closing companies and sending jobs oversees, that is a VALID issue in a Presidential election.
If you cannot understand that basic point, then you have absolutely no right to run for President.
If I had any faith at all that a) there would be significant cuts in spending (and not just defense) to go along with any tax increase, and b) increasing taxes on the rich would get the so-called 99% to put a cork in it for a while and give it a rest, I might reevaluate my stance on the issue. But since that's a slam-dunk "nope" and "nope," forget it.
Increasing taxes on the rich is not going to solve anything as long as the current crew is in D.C.
Poor and middle class people make up the vast majority of all consumers. Our market economy is based on consumers. Poor people and middle class people pay most people's salary even if they think the guy that signs the checks does.
"Education" has he seen or can he even imagine how much college costs are? WE can't effort to send our children to college, so he IS out-of-touch.
Liberals hate success, because mostly it eludes them. My five year old can understand that.
Most of the successful people are making big money by outsourcing and lay off. Like Romney and that's why he is protecting people like him.