Mitt Romney sat down for his first public interview since he lost the presidential election in November. Romney, along with his wife Ann, reflected on how they have adjusted to life since their campaigning days, telling Fox News‘ Chris Wallace that they were convinced up until the very end that the outcome of the race was going to swing their way.
“I’ll look at what’s happening right now, I wish I were there,” Romney said of the ongoing sequestration battles in Washington. “It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done. The president is the leader of the nation. The president brings people together, does the deals, does the trades, knocks the heads together; the president leads.”
“And–and I don’t see that kind of–of leadership happening right now,” he added.
In his campaign postmortem, Romney pointed to his own weaknesses, and the political costs of his “harmful” remarks that 47% of Americans were dependent on the government.
“There’s no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign,” Romney told Wallace in the interview, which aired Sunday.
Romney pointed to his campaign’s weakness in reaching out to minority voters as race inevitably contributed to his Election Day demise–Obama ultimately trounced the Republican candidate by taking 93% of black voters, and 71% of Hispanics. After his loss, a number of high-profile members of Romney’s own party threw him under the bus for yet another secret audio recording where he blamed his loss on Obama’s “gifts” to minority, youth and women voters.
In the interview Sunday, Romney dismissed the infighting and softened his tone on placing blame, but acknowledged that the president’s campaign had an edge in that “Obamacare was very attractive, particularly to those without health insurance.”
He also said Hurricane Sandy and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s response to the superstorm that hit during the crucial days leading up to Election Day did not cost him the election. ”I lost my election because of my campaign and not because of what anyone else did,” he said.
Ann Romney, who was far less forgiving in shaking off the loss, blamed the Romney campaign in part for not letting “Mitt be Mitt,” as well as the media for what she felt was unfair coverage.
“It was not just the campaign’s fault. I believe it was the media’s fault as well, in that he was not giving–being given a fair shake, that people weren’t allowed to really see him for who he was.”
“I’m happy to blame the media,” she said, laughing.
Ann went on to recount how emotional she was after the campaign, and that she’s ”mostly over it.”
“My heart and my soul was: we’re going to win,” she said.
The Romneys say they are now enjoying time out of the political spotlight, spending more time with their five sons and 20 grandchildren.
“We were on a roller coaster,” Mitt said. “Exciting and thrilling, ups and downs. But the ride ends. And then you get off. And it’s not like ‘oh, can we be on the roller coaster for the rest of our life?’ No. The ride is over.”