Mitt Romney expressed support for gay adoption on Thursday, calling it "fine" and noting that it's legal in his home state of Massachusetts. But he again stressed his opposition to same-sex marriage and his preference for every child to have a mother and a father. Also in the interview, he said he didn't recall an incident in which he reportedly bullied a student presume to be gay.
On the marriage issue, he told Fox News' Neil Cavuto, "I believe marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history and that marriage is literally by its definition a relationship between a man and a woman. And that if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship and even want to adopt a child, in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view that's something that people have the right to do, but to call that marriage is, in my view, a departure of the real meaning of that word."
The presumptive GOP nominee said it is his "preference" 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," Romney said. "There could be domestic partnership benefits, for instance, where one state might decide to provide hospital visitation rights, another state might decide to provide that as well as benefits of other kinds."
On Wednesday, in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, President Obama announced his decision to support same-sex marriage. Obama told Roberts his wife, Michelle, agrees with him; today Romney said his wife, Ann, agrees with his stance.
Cavuto also asked Romney about a Washington Post article that details a bullying incident on a student who was presumed to be gay. The moment was recalled by several on-the-record sources.
"First of all, I had no idea what that individual's sexual orientation might be, going back to the 1960s that wasn't something that we all discussed or considered, so that's simply just not accurate," Romney said. "I don't recall the incident myself but I've seen the reports and I'm not going to argue with that. There's no question that I did some stupid things in high school, and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it."
He denied hearing from any of the other students involved in the incident since the story broke.
Romney said these other issues are being used by the Obama campaign as distractions from the economy and are designed to take the American voters' "eye off the ball."
"I think you're going to find throughout this campaign season that the president's team will be doing everything in their power to try and hold up various shiny objects," Romney said. "Many will be with regards to me, some will be with regards to the president's policies or promises of some major new giveaway. All of these things are designed to take people's eye off the ball, which is the massive deficit this President has put in place, his inability to develop the energy resources in this country, his Obamacare, which is not attractive at all to the American people, and an economy which is stumbling along, which should have recovered a long time ago and as a result a lot of people are out of work."
Romney was also asked about the ongoing debate on whether his opponent is more "hip" than he is and if he will have to become more "cool" to beat the president.
The candidate laughed and said he has "different skills and different interests and different hobbies."
"I don't think I'll play the president a round of golf, but I'll be happy to take him through a water ski course," Romney said before repeating what his wife says about his pranking ways. "Ann says there's a wild and crazy guy locked up inside of me."
Cavuto asked if, to beat the "buttoned up" image, he may pick a younger running mate, even floating the name Marco Rubio, but Romney didn't bite.
"Frankly, I think what the American people would look for in the vice president is someone who they believe could be president if that were necessary, and that's probably the quality that's most important," Romney said.