By Justin Sink - 07/25/12 10:56 PM EDT
Mitt Romney said Wednesday night that he hadn't yet picked a running mate and would not be making such an announcement during his foreign tour.
Speaking with NBC News in London — the first stop of his six-day trip to England, Israel and Poland — Romney wouldn't give
any clues as to who was under consideration. He did say, as expected,
his choice would be announced sometime after he returned from trip.
"While I'm overseas, I'm not gonna announce my vice presidential running mate," Romney said. "But when the decision is made, I'll make that announcement. It's not made yet."
He was also asked about preventing future mass killings like the cinema massacre last week in Colorado, saying it would require changing American hearts, not American gun laws.
"We can sometimes hope that just changing a law will make all bad things go away. It won't," the presumptive GOP nominee said. "Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential to improve the lots of the American people."
Romney was pressed by NBC anchor Brian Williams on the assault weapons ban he signed as governor of Massachusetts, a step he defended at the time as preventing the sale of "instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people." On Wednesday, Romney said that legislation was a bipartisan compromise, but that he didn't believe it was necessary to reconsider federal gun laws.
"It was a continuation of prior legislation. And it was backed both by the Second Amendment advocates like myself, and those that wanted to restrict gun rights. Because it was a compromise. Both sides got some things improved in the laws as they existed," Romney said. "I happen to think that with regards to the Aurora, Colo. disaster, we're wise to continue the time of memorial and think of the comforting the people affected. And political implications, legal implications are something which will be sorted out down the road. But I don't happen to believe that America needs new gun laws."
Romney also said that, in regards to the N.R.A., "their agenda is not entirely identical with my own" and that on many issues there were "differences between myself and [the gun lobby]."
The wide-ranging interview also touched on recent controversies on the campaign trail, including remarks by an anonymous Romney adviser in a British paper Wednesday saying that the Republican — in contrast to President Obama — had a "shared history" that was "part of an Anglo Saxon heritage." Romney looked to downplay the comments, which have been panned by the Obama campaign and Vice President Joe Biden.
"I'm generally not enthusiastic about adopting the comments made by people who are unnamed. I have a lot of advisors," Romney said. "I'm not sure who this person is. But I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain.
It goes back to our very beginnings, cultural and historical. But I also believe the president understands that. So I don't agree with whoever that advisor might be. But do agree that we have a very common bond between ourselves and Great Britain."
Romney also addressed repeated calls from the Obama administration to release his tax returns, and again reiterated that he would not release additional years' filings.
"I'm following the same precedent that was put in place by John McCain. Two years, and by the way, hundreds of pages of returns for the Democrat operatives to go through and twist and distort and to turn in different directions and try and make a big deal out of," Romney said. "But, you know, the American people are not real concerned about tax returns. They're concerned about who can get this economy going and create good jobs again."
Romney also touched on the prevailing sentiment that he was reluctant to discuss his heritage and personal life, saying that he expected voters to get to know him better as the election season heated up. But Romney said as he met with more voters, he would talk about the events and institutions that formed his worldview — including the Mormon Church.
"I'll talk about my experiences in the church. There's no question they've helped shape my perspective," Romney said. "I have, like my wife — we try and give about 10 percent of our time, not just 10 percent of our money, but also of our time, to service in the community. And those things have enriched our life, have given us perspectives that go beyond the group of friends we might have otherwise had, and instead bring us into homes where people face very different challenges than we faced."