Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said President Barack Obama should "start packing," as he used a broadcast television interview to defend his ability to connect with average Americans.
In an ABC News interview to be broadcast tonight, Romney also said he has picked a longtime adviser to oversee the vetting of his running mate. Beth Myers, the adviser, was a chief of staff for Romney when he was Massachusetts governor, served as his presidential campaign manager four years ago and is a senior adviser to his current bid.
Excerpts of the interview were released as Democrats accused Romney of running a secretive campaign and called on him to release more tax records.
Asked by Diane Sawyer whether his wealth -- including a planned elevator for his cars that's part of a $12 million renovation at his beach home in La Jolla, California -- prevents him from relating to most people, Romney said it shouldn't.
"We don't divide America based upon success and wealth and other dimensions of that nature. We're one nation under God," he said. "This is a time when people of different backgrounds and different experiences need to come together."
The full interview is to be broadcast tonight on "ABC World News" and "Nightline."
Romney was joined by his wife, Ann, who said her message to Obama was that it's "Mitt's time" and "it's our turn now."
Asked about Obama's suggestion that he release 12 years of his tax returns, Romney said he had no plans to do so.
"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," he said. "So he's going to try to make this campaign about the fact that I've been successful, that I've made a lot of money."
Romney also said he would like to see the nation's highest court overturn the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.
"I would love the Supreme Court to say, 'Let's send this back to the states,'" he said. "Rather than having a federal mandate through Roe v. Wade, let the states again consider this issue state by state."
Timing of Pick
Asked about a deadline for his running mate selection, Romney said he does have one in mind and that it would be before the Republican Party's national convention Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Florida, where the ticket will be officially nominated.
"It would certainly be by the time of the convention," he said in the interview at Boston's Fenway Park. "I don't think we've chosen the time we'd actually make an announcement."
Romney, 65, who at a weekend fundraiser in Florida talked about the importance of appealing to Hispanic voters, called Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida "one of the terrific leaders" of the party, while declining to say if he is on the list of prospective running mates.
"I think it's way too early to begin narrowing down who the potential vice presidential nominees might be," Romney said. "But we're beginning that process."
At that same fundraiser in Palm Beach, Florida, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal reported that Romney said he is considering the elimination of mortgage deductions on second homes as part of the tax exemptions he would propose ending.
"I'm going to probably eliminate for high-income people the second home mortgage deduction," he said, adding that he would also likely eliminate state income and property tax deductions.
The remarks, made from the backyard of a private home last night, were overheard by reporters on a sidewalk below, NBC reported.
HUD May Go
At the gathering, Romney also floated the idea of eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Cabinet-level agency once headed by his father, George.
"I'm going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them," he said, according to NBC News. "Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I'm not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we've got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states."
Asked about the Department of Education (AAEXEDUC), Romney said it, too, would also face restructuring.
"The Department of Education I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller," he said. "I'm not going to get rid of it entirely."