Speaking for the first time for a sit-down interview since his lost last November, Mitt Romney told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that he truly thought he was going to win on Election Day, but first reports out of Florida gave him concern:
The exit polls came out first, and, suggested that it was going to be very close in Florida and we thought we'd win solidly in Florida and it was increasingly clear that this was going to be with the best case scenario, a long night.
Let's be clear though - even though Florida ultimately proved meaningless in last year's election (the election results weren't final until four days later), the conventional wisdom among most political pundits thoughout 2012 (including even by the great Nate Silver,who wrote on his 538 New York Times blog the night before the election that "Florida remains too close to call.") was that Romney would take Florida. In the end, most obviously underestimated Team Obama's ground game, something that Ann Romney referred to when asked why Mitt lost.
It's a very small and lonely club of losing presidential candidates, and some of those who fit that profile have said you never get over it. Ann Romney quoted from The Princess Bride in saying that "I'm mostly over it. But not completely....And you have moments where you, you know, go back and feel the sorrow of the loss. And so, yes, I think we're not mostly dead yet."
A week after the election, Romney held a conference call with some of his top financial donors, in which he blamed his defeat on President Obama giving away things, a strong echo of what was one of the biggest game-changers of the election, the now infamous leaked Boca Raton speech to fundraisers where he talked about how he couldn't reach the "47 percent" of Americans looking for handouts. When asked about that infamous speech, Romney 'fessed up that that was a major mistake.
ROMNEY: You know, when you speak in private, you don't spend as much time thinking about how something could be twisted and distorted and — and it could come out wrong and be used.
But, you know, I did. And it was very harmful. What I said is not what I believe. Obviously, my whole campaign — my whole life has been devoted to helping people, all of the people. I care about all the people of the country.
But that hurt. There's no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign.
Like Al Gore and John Kerry before him, Mitt Romney was an easily mockable candidate, and at times undoubtedly the media coverage was unfair against him (like it was against those two other presidential candidates). Ann Romney said she was "happy to blame the media" for not painting an accurate portrayal of her husband.
On issues going on in Washington right now, Romney blasted Obama for "campaigning" instead of negotiating with Congressional Republicans to stop sequestration from happening.
Interestingly considering he lost the Latino vote by a 71-29 percent margin, Romney said he has no regrets for his policy on illegal immigration, specifically his call at a debate at USF a year ago that undocumented immigrants should "self-deport."
MITT ROMNEY: People who have come here illegally should not be given a special pathway to permanent residency or citizenship in this country merely because they've come here illegally.
So I have that position. But I understand others have different positions. Others in my party do. And to finally resolve this issue is going to require people of differing views to come together and see if there could be some compromise or some common ground.
And I hope that happens. I believe that will happen.
The calls for comprehensive immigration reform came the night of the election, specifically in part because of how lousy Romney did with Latinos, a demographic that had been considered up for grabs but in recent elections has trended more heavily towards Democrats.
But when asked what the GOP needs to do to win back the presidency, Romney admits that the party must do better with blacks and Latinos, though his hardline stance on immigration obviously wouldn't be the tonic to alleviate that growing fissure.
"Clearly, we have to do a better job bringing minority voters in to vote for Republicans and that's Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, other minorities. We've got to do a better job taking our message to them to help them understand why we're the party with the ideas that will make their life better."