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Romney: Chris Christie and Hurricane Sandy didn’t cost me the election

Mitt Romney said in an interview airing Sunday that he doesn't blame New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) or Hurricane Sandy for his loss in the 2012 presidential race.

In his first public interview since the election, on "Fox News Sunday," Romney instead blamed his own "47 percent" comments and his failure to connect with minority voters.

"I don't think that's why the president won the election," Romney said of Sandy, though he also noted that it forced his campaign to cease operations for a few days.

Asked about Christie's effusive praise of Obama in those final days, which has left a bad taste in the mouth of some conservatives, Romney said Christie was just doing his job.

"I'm not going to worry about how Chris was doing what he thought was best for the people of his state," Romney said. "I lost my election because of my campaign, not because of what anyone else did."

Romney, meanwhile, called his "47 percent" comment, in which he said at a private fundraiser that nearly half the country was reliant on government services and thus wouldn't vote for him, "very harmful."

"What I said is not what I believe," he said. "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."

Romney and his wife, Ann, both said that they nonetheless thought they were going to win on Election Day.

“We were convinced that we would win," he said. "We saw that the polls were close. But we knew that the energy and passion was with out voters, and my heart said we were going to win.”

Romney said his opinion changed when exit polls in Florida showed a close race -- his campaign expected to win there easily -- and that he knew he had lost by 8 or 9 o'clock that evening.

Ann Romney confirmed reports that she cried when they realized they had lost: "I did, of course. Yeah. Very disappointed.”

She said she's not completely over the loss, but that she's "mostly" over it. But it was also clear that she harbors hard feelings over the campaign. When host Chris Wallace asked whether President Obama ran a fair campaign, she didn't hesitate.

"No," she said. "Portrayal of my husband... He is an exceptional, wonderful person.”

She added: “I’m like a she-lion when it comes to defending Mitt. … And I mourn the fact that he’s not (president).”

Romney said it "kills" him to not be president -- especially given the failure by Obama to reach a deal on the sequester.

"It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done," he said. "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 I don't see that kind of leadership happening right now."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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