A confident Mitt Romney used a nationally televised interview on Monday to tell President Obama to “start packing."
The response came in an interview with ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer, who asked Romney -- the presumptive GOP presidential nominee -- if he had anything to say to the president.
"I understand America's economy because I've lived in it," Romney said. "I can connect with America's economy because I know it. I don't connect with President Obama because he doesn't understand the economy. He doesn't understand what it takes to get jobs for the American people. I do, and I want to use that experience to get America right again.
Romney’s confident tone came as the first Gallup daily tracking poll showed him pulling slightly ahead of the president, though in a statistical dead heat. However, a CNN survey showed him trailing Obama.
Romney and his wife, Ann, both sat for the interview, which took place at Boston’s Fenway Park before the former Massachusetts governor took in a Red Sox game with members of his family and supporters who had won a trip to the event.
Ann Romney has recently been in the spotlight after a Democratic strategist attacked her ability to advise her husband on economic issues facing women since she had never held a job herself. At a GOP fundraiser over the weekend, Ann Romney said the jab had been a “birthday gift.”
“That wasn’t how I meant it,” Ann Romney told Sawyer when asked about her characterization. “It was a birthday gift to me because I love the fact that we’re talking about this.”
Ann Romney has been on the front lines trying to boost her husband’s standing among women, a group that has been moving toward the president in recent polls, after a hard-fought Republican primary pulled Romney to the right on some issues of importance to female voters – like the funding of Planned Parenthood and whether religious institutions should be required to provide contraception coverage in their insurance plans.
Asked by Sawyer about his current position on abortion, which has evolved from pro-abortion rights to antiabortion over the years, Romney said he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“I would love the Supreme Court to say, ‘Let’s send this back to the states.’ Rather than having a federal mandate through Roe v. Wade, let the states again consider this issue state by state,” Romney said.
Romney was also pushed on the question whether he could relate to the average American worker, with Sawyer bringing up his wife’s multiple Cadillacs and the new car elevator that is being installed in their California mansion. Romney rejected the notion that Americans judge people based on class, success, and wealth.
“We’re one nation under God,” he said. “This is a time when people of different backgrounds and different experiences need to come together. I happen to believe that I’m by far the best qualified in this race between myself and President Obama.”
He dismissed Obama's call to follow in the footsteps of his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, to release his past 12 years of tax returns, just as he did when confronted with the question from his Republican rivals.
"The president is going to try and do everything possible to divert from the attention being focused upon his record as president and the failure of his economic policies. So he's going to try and make this campaign about the fact that I've been successful, that I've made a lot of money. So he wants to be able to get all the details on each year and how much money I made this year and that year. I'm not going to get into that."
Romney touched on several other topics during the interview:
- He refused to say whether he would have signed the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Fair Play Act regarding equal pay for women that was Obama's first action upon taking office, but said the law should stand. "I'm not going to go back and look at all the prior laws and say had I been there which ones would I have supported and signed, but I certainly support equal pay for women and have no intention of changing that law, don't think there's a reason to."
- He said he would not negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan, but added, "I have no difficulty in sending messages back and forth."
- He said he has no aversion to discussing his Mormon faith, an issue that some religious conservatives have found problematic. "I'm not running for pastor-in-chief. I'm running for commander in chief. But as people want to know more about my personal life and my faith and the fact that I served as a missionary for my church.... I'm happy to talk about those experiences and do."