DENVER -- In an exclusive interview with FOX31 Denver Monday night, likely the last television interview before Wednesday night's critical presidential debate, Mitt Romney again avoided offering many specifics when pressed about how he planned to pay for a $5 trillion tax cut.
Romney, who sat down for the interview before taking the stage for a rally at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Lowry, wouldn't name a specific tax loophole he'd close in order to cover the cost of his plan, only a couple of options he'd consider if elected president.
"What we're going to do is bring down the rates for everybody, and at the same time we're going to limit deductions and credits and so forth for people at the high end. Very high income people are going to have the deductions and credits come down so we can pay for bringing down the rates," Romney said.
Pressed for specific deductions he'd take away, Romney explained that could be up to individual taxpayers, or Congress.
"As an option you could say everybody's going to get up to a $17,000 deduction; and you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others -- your healthcare deduction, and you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way. And higher income people might have a lower number.
"Or you could do it by the same method that Bowles-Simpson did it where you could limit certain deductions, but that's the sort of thing you do with Congress."
Romney's remarks to FOX31 Denver, and those he made on stage before a crowd of 6,000 supporters Monday night after being endorsed by Broncos legend John Elway, offered a preview of the message he'll try to convey on the debate stage Wednesday night.
With a small plane circling above trailing a sign that read, "Hey Mitt, How do you like us now? - The 47 Percent", FOX31 also asked Romney if he wishes he could take back his controversial comments at a May fundraiser where he seemed to write off nearly half of the country's population because they don't pay taxes.
"I don't think it's ever productive for someone like me to get into the details of how the campaign is going to cobble together the details of how someone like me is going to win an election," Romney said. "So when I'm talking politics and the dynamics of bringing in the number of votes I'm going to need, why, I'm talking about something that isn't of interest to most folks.
Of course, Romney's remark, that "I'll never get those people to take personal responsibility for their own lives", which now punctuates a damaging Obama campaign ad, appears to have been about more than campaign strategy.
But he told FOX31 Denver that the Obama campaign's focus on the comment is an effort to "deflect from the real issues people care about."
"What they want to know will I get real jobs for people and get rising incomes? And I'm a president of the United States for a hundred percent of the American people, and that's the real number people care about.
"I'll be a president for the 100 percent of the people, and I've demonstrated that throughout my life," Romney said.
Polls show Romney within striking distance of President Obama nationally, although he still trails by significant margins in swing states like Ohio, Virgina and Florida.
Most analysts see Wednesday night's first presidential debate as one of Romney's final chances to change the trajectory of the campaign.
When asked about the importance of those 90 minutes, Romney, as his advisers have been doing, downplayed the stakes.
"It certainly is a critical moment in politics and for the nation," Romney said. "I think it's bigger than either the president or myself. This is a real question about what's the course of the nation going to be? What kind of an America are we going to be? Are we going to continue with the status quo the president put in place or are we going to take a new and better path?AlertMe