By Justin Sink - 05/10/12 10:03 PM EDT
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that he hoped the president wouldn't fundraise off an issue "as tender and sensitive" as marriage and doubled down on his call for federal legislation that would ban same sex nuptials.
"You know, i don't think the matter of marriage is really a fundraising matter either for the president — it's certainly not for me. I don't know what our figures look like," Romney told Fox News when asked about reports that the president's reelection team had raised more than a million dollars in the 90 minutes following his announcement endorsing gay marriage. "I hope the issue as tender and sensitive that the marriage issue is not a source of fundraising for either of us."
"You know, I don't know there's a calculation of which positions are going to help and which positions are going to hurt politically. I think you have positions, you describe what they are, hopefully people are focusing on the major issues of the day which relate to our economy, getting people back to work," Romney said.
"But I know for many people the issue of marriage is going to be a defining issue and they'll make their decision on that basis, that's their right, but you don't change your positions trying to win states or certain subgroups of Americans, you have the positions you have," he added.
Romney was pressed about a new web ad from the Obama campaign challenging his position on federal legislation that would bar same-sex marriage. The Obama video says Romney would eliminate the possibility of federal protections that ensure gay couples the ability to share health insurance or visit each other in the hospital; asked about the issue, Romney confirmed he believed it was an issue for the states.
"My preference would be to have a national standard that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. That would then allow states to determine what rights would be provided for people of the same gender who wanted to have a relationship. There could be domestic partnership benefits, for example, where one state decided it wanted to provide hospital visitation rights, another state might decide to provide that as well as benefits of a different kind," Romney said.
Romney also disputed the suggestion that the fight for same-sex marriages would come be considered similar to that of the struggle for civil rights in the last century.
"I don't see it in that light. My record as a person who has supported civil rights is strong and powerful. At the same time, I believe marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization and that marriage is literally by its definition a relationship between a man and a woman, and if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even adopt a child… in my view, that's something they have a right to do. But to call that marriage is, in my view, a departure from the real meaning of that word," Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor was also probed on a report that he bullied gay students while attending prep school, saying he would not dispute the story and again apologizing for his actions.
"I have no idea what that individual's sexual orientation might be. Going back to the 1960s, that wasn't something we all discussed or considered, so that's simply not accurate. I don't recall the incident myself, but I've seen the reports, I'm not going to argue with that, there's no questions I did some stupid things when I was in high school, and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that I'd be very sorry for it and apologize for it," Romney said.
Romney said that he instead hoped to discuss issues more pertinent to voters, like the economy.
"I think you're going to find throughout this campaign season that the president's team will be doing everything in their power to hold up various shiny objects," Romney said
"All these things designed to take people's eye off the ball, which is the massive deficit this president has put in place, his inability to develop energy resources in this country, his Obamacare that is not at all attractive to the American people, and an economy that is stumbling along," he added.