(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.
"When you attack success you have less of it, and that's what we've seen in our economy over the last few years." – yeah, the rich/poor divide is obviously shrinking, not getting larger. Right?
The Left opposes individual success for several reasons. One of those reasons is that they can make a big deal about how "unfair" it is that some people are successful while others aren't, another is that successful people aren't dependent on government and thus can't be counted on to vote for Democrats.
Romney's message resonates with me. I am an immigrant who has seen success and has been actively pursuing it. Obama's policies have gotten in the way of success. I want a Romney as president because he knows how to succeed.
He has streamlined companies so they will be more profitable and people scream that he has laid off workers to make himself rich.
He pays all the taxes the law requires of him and he is accused of not paying "his fair share"
He belongs to a religion that requires sacrifice and self-discipline and all people can do is make fun of his "magical underwear."
He achieves wealth and is criticized for not sharing it.
Barack and Michelle Obama are wealthy also.
They use every possible tax loophole.
They take advantage of tax write-offs.
But the difference is that they were less-than charitable with their money until he ran for office, giving less than 2% to charities. They became rich by siphoning government programs for the poor, by making connections with crooked people and extorting businesses for money. They belonged to a church that preached racism and hate for over 20 years. They have never created one job in their private lives.
Barack Obama does not deserve a second term.
Dear Romney, give your money away and you will probably be elected. Just something to think about.
What a candidate did to achieve success is a legitimate issue.
He's not attacking succes, he's attacking greed. Jonas Salk was succesful, Romney is greedy.
Show us the tax returns Mitt!
Mitt is starting to sound like Gordon Gecko: "Greed is good."
If Romney wants to run on his "success" then it is FAIR GAME to go after the methods by which he became "successful". You know, outsourcing jobs overseas, investing money in the cayman islands, and living off of capital gains instead of WORKING.
The problem is that those that "have success" haven't done anything to help other people. The money is one thing, but if nothing is done with it to help fellow people, what is the point of it. If it never advances or cures problems here in your own place (country, state or town), then there is a great level of short sightedness. Besides, I'd like to know when these "job creators and businesses" that pay on personal income taxes have done anything; who are these people that don't seperate personal from business?
Stop cutting and pasting
Why do the republicans complain about the poor as being too lazy and needing to get off their you know what and work. The republicans are the worst of the worst when it comes to criticizing people because of their incomes.
Romney just doesn't get it. We don't criticize wealth or success. We critiicize people that crush others before, during and after they create wealth. We also criticize wealth when someone creates wealth without building something. Henry C. Frick, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, these men were certainly not the nicest people in the world but at least they created something. Finally, I'm not 100% sure of this but I don't recall those millionaires putting moneys in Caymans or some Island, well maybe Carnegie since he lived in Ireland near the end of his life.
Do some people scapegoat the rich for their own failures or their own bad fortune? Yes. Do some people want to politically target the rich out of generalized class jealousy? Yes. Both of these things happen.
But it's not a solution to treat the rich as untouchable – success shouldn't even be "criticized"? Their tax rates shouldn't even be examined? How they handled employment decisions like outsourcing shouldn't even be questioned? Bunk, bunk, and bunk. These things do need to be critically investigated and discussed. They're important issues, and they're not off-limits just because they effect successful people adversely.
Arrogance, tax returns, stance on gays, CEO of Baine corp, Offshoring, Healthcares as Gov etc.
When I think about the last election and how the Republicans claimed that Obama was an elitist–now they're trying to foist off this neo-robber baron as President. That's taking elitism to new heights. Dance magic horsey dance!
"No one is attacking success. We just don't like cheaters, and people who hide money off-shore are cheaters."
Protecting your assets from a thieving government is cheating?
Arrogance, tax returns, stance on g a ys, CEO of Baine corp, Offshoring, Healthcares as Gov etc.
Plus, how many in congress are part of the 1%? How many of those are in favor of tax cuts to continue for the rich, probably 100% of them. Only poor, stupid people vote against their self interest.
From the old Star Trek episode "And the Children Will Lead", as the children get a good look at the "Friendly Angel" they realize what sort of flaws he really has and what his real motives are.
All too often people like Mitt Romney fit the same description.
I'm not happy at all with Obama but he's learned the job for 4 years. Mitt Romney isn't George Bush but in some ways he might actually be worse. His desire to take all the reins off of business goes too far. We went through that in 2008. How can anyone suggest seriously that we go back to that?
Littlelilly: I sure hope you realize there is no way he paid 0% in taxes. You're being ignorant. You should really do more research in order to make a more educated decision about where your vote is going. All politicians will lie to get your vote (even Obama), so its up to the citizens to make smart informed decisions. With that statement, it's clear you are not.
Do not give Mitt Rommey a loaded gun, he would do literally kill himself, as in the same manner he is doing trying to get to the White House.
1% of the American population has 43% of the wealth, 80% of the population has 7% of the wealth, and the concentration at the top keeps increasing. Looking at this, it sure seems like the opportunity that Mr. Romney keeps talking about has been diminishing for at least the past 20 years, and I see this as the biggest problem this country is facing. By the way, I'm not in either the top 1% or the bottom 80%, I figure I'm in the top 20% somewhere, so I'm better off than most.
Hey Mitt – what about those TAX RETURNS ??? Are you afraid that those returns will prove that your "success" came from stepping on your employees, plundering their companies, declaring bankruptcy, and depositing the loot in offshore bank accounts so you wouldn't have to pay taxes ???
Well lets see the middle class has put up with frozen wages for about the last 30 years while the top %2 have had wealth and wage increases of billions and billions and billions of dollars over the same time span! Who put the big divide between the middle class and the top %2 ? It would seem to me its the top %2 that seem to have no guilt over feeding at the plate of american wealth and in the end if they don't stop the will have to live like other rich people in the have and have not countries. They will spend lots of money building walls around their houses ,paying people to protect them while they sleep. paying people to drive them around in armord cars, pay people to teach their kids at home not at schools were they would not be safe and loose most of their freedom to move around the country thay live in. Wise up top %2 and stop trying to buy this democracy just to feed more wealth to your blinding greed or you may just get the life i just told you about! By the way don't even think that i am just another lefty either because i am a former tool and die business owner that lost his family business to George Bush jr's faulty economics plan of out sourcing america!
He's not attacking succes, he's attacking greed. Jonas Salk was succesful, Romney is greedy.
Jonas Salk also refused to patent his formula, instead he gave it away