NBC's Brian Williams spoke with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on a wide range of topics including the Olympics, gun control, education, taxes and religion.
LONDON-- Mitt Romney said Wednesday that more restrictive gun laws would likely not have prevented last week's deadly mass shooting at a Colorado Cineplex, and argued that it would take Americans changing their hearts, not their legislation, to prevent similar future attacks.
"Political implications, legal implications are something which will be sorted out down the road," Romney told NBC's Brian Williams during an exclusive interview here in London. "But I don't happen to believe that America needs new gun laws. A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law. But the fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening."
Romney, who enacted an assault weapons ban as governor of Massachusetts (with the support of a Democratic legislature) would not say whether he still believes that weapons like the AR-15 assault rifle used in the Colorado shooting were "instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people," as he described them during the bill signing ceremony in 2002.
When Williams followed up later in the interview on the Aurora attack, Romney argued that it would take a change in heart, not laws, to stop future violence.
"Well, this person shouldn't have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already. But he had them," Romney said, although the guns used in the shooting were all purchased legally.
"And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won't. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people."
NBC's Brian Williams interviews Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in London on Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Romney used the interview to shore up several policy and strategic positions laid out by his campaign in recent weeks, reiterating that he would only release two years of tax returns so as not to provide fodder for Democratic operatives to " twist and distort and to turn in different directions and try and make a big deal out of." He also repeated the major planks of his economic plan, which he says differentiates him from the last Republican president, George W. Bush.
Williams also asked the candidate about controversial comments on the front page of a British newspaper, reportedly given by an unnamed Romney adviser, who called President Barack Obama a "novice" in foreign affairs, and said the Democrat did not fully value the "Anglo-Saxon" nature of the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have,” the adviser is quoted telling the Daily Telegraph.
Earlier today, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul flatly denied the comments came from anyone inside the Romney camp, or that those views were shared by the former Massachusetts governor. Romney said he was generally "not enthusiastic" about adopting the comments of unnamed advisers in newspaper stories, and pointed out he gets "advice" every day along rope lines and on the street.
“But I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain," Romney said. "It goes back to our very beginnings, cultural … and historical. But I also believe the president understands that. So I don't know agree with whoever that advisor might be. But do agree that we have a very common bond between ourselves and Great Britain."
When it comes to selecting a vice presidential nominee to join him on the Republican ticket, Romney told Williams he has still not made a final decision, and confirmed that he would not be announcing his pick until at least next week, after he returns from his week-long trip abroad.
"While I'm overseas, I'm not gonna announce my vice presidential running mate. But when the decision is made, I'll make that announcement. It's not made yet," Romney said. "I can't tell you when it's gonna be. That's … that's something which we'll decide down the road."
This visit was timed to coincide with the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, where Ann Romney’s horse, Rafalca, is competing in the equestrian sport of dressage. Will the presumptive GOP nominee be cheering it on?
"I have to tell you, this is Ann's sport. I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on," Romney said. "She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well. But just the honor of being here and representing our country and seeing the other Olympians is something which I'm sure the people that are associated with this are looking forward to."