(The Blaze/AP) In a rare appearance on a Sunday news program Romney portrayed himself as the GOP candidate who is best able to defeat Obama next year.
"The president's going to go after me," Romney said on Fox News Sunday. "I'll go after him."
Romney defended his years making millions in private business, claiming he'll be able to handle attacks from Democrats who are already trying to paint him as wealthy and out-of-touch. And he argued that his tax proposal is kinder to the middle class and less generous to the rich than the flat tax proposals his rivals - including Gingrich - are backing.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure that with the precious dollars we have, if we can provide the tax relief, that those dollars go to middle-income Americans.
The people that have been hurt in the Obama economy are — are not the wealthy. The wealthy are doing just fine. The people that have been hurt are people in the middle class.
And so I focus the — those precious dollars that we have — I focus that on the middle class. I want –
WALLACE: But what’s wrong with a 15 percent flat tax or the 20 percent flat tax? You’re keeping the current rate for the wealthy as 35 percent?
ROMNEY: Look, I would love to see a — a tax system which brings down rates, which is a more broad-based tax system, which eliminates some of the deductions and exemptions. The Bowles-Simpson plan, for instance, I think, had a lot to speak for. And — and I’ll — I’ll work on a plan of that nature.
The policies I’ve seen so far that have been put forward of that nature have represented dramatic reductions in taxes for the very highest income people, and I’m not looking to dramatically reduce taxes for the wealthiest in our society. Not that there’s anything wrong with being wealthy. I’m pleased to have done well myself. You understand that, others do.
But my — my intent in running for president is to help middle-income Americans, and a plan that dramatically cuts taxes for the very, very wealthiest, in my opinion, is not the right course.
AP notes that Romney's confidence increasing, as he has stepped away from his aggressive attacks on Gingrich in recent days. When asked what separates himself from the former Speaker, Romney avoided personal attacks and instead identified examples of how he would lead the party if elected, while admitting Gingrich would still make a better President than Barack Obama:
WALLACE: What’s your basic argument against Newt Gingrich?
ROMNEY: Well, we’re different and a campaign is about pointing out differences. I mean, for instance, the great issue that has been brought before this Congress, with the new Republican Congress, is are we going to deal with entitlement reform or not. And Republicans came together and proposed a program to make sure that Medicare is sustainable. Paul Ryan was the author of the plan, but almost every single Republican in Congress voted for it. And — and the world watched to see, OK, are we going to have progress. And the speaker said this is right-wing social engineering. This — talk about unreliable. At a critical time, he — he cut the legs out from underneath a very important message. The same — the same was true with regards to cap and trade. This was being battled on Capitol Hill and the speaker sat down with Nancy Pelosi and spoke in favor of legislation dealing with climate change. He has been unreliable in those settings. And zany, I don’t think you would call mirrors in space to light highways at night particularly practical, or a lunar colony a practical idea, not at a stage like this.
The former Massachusetts governor became somewhat tongue-tied when discussing his opinion on the exit of troops from Iraq, Mediaite video:
As the Gingrich surge appears to be plateauing, Romney has shifted his focus back to Obama - and working to humanize himself on the campaign trail. That focus was on display in Sunday's interview, when Romney spoke emotionally about his wife's struggle with multiple sclerosis.
He said the "toughest time" in his life was standing in the doctor's office waiting for her diagnosis. He said he feared she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal degenerative nerve condition.
The doctor "did these neurological tests, and then he - and we could see that she had real balance problems and she didn't have feeling in places she should have feeling," Romney said. "And he stepped out of the room, and we stood up and hugged each other, and I said to her, `As long as it's not something fatal, I'm just fine. Look, I'm happy in life as long as I've got my soul mate with me.'"
After her diagnosis, Ann Romney was concerned that she wouldn't be able to do things that she had in the past. "And I said, `Look, I don't care what the meals are like, you know, I like cold cereal and peanut butter sandwiches,'" Romney said. "We could do fine with that as long as we have each other. And if you think about what makes a difference to you in your life, it's people. Life is all about the people you love."
Romney is set for a four-day bus tour in New Hampshire later this week, and won't return to Iowa until after Christmas.