By: Catalina Camia, USA Today
WASHINGTON - Four months after losing the White House, Mitt Romney is dusting himself off and starting to speak out about politics and policy again.
In a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday on Fox News, Romney chided President Obama for his dealings with congressional Republicans and for "playing politics" with the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.
"I look at this sequester and also the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as an almost once-in-a-generational opportunity for America to solve its fiscal problems," he said. "I see this as a huge opportunity and it's being squandered by politics ... by people who are more interested in a political victory than doing what's right for the country."
In mid-March, Romney will come to the Washington suburbs for an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference - his first big post-election speech.
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Romney garnered about 47% of the vote to Obama's 51% - an irony considering the flap over the Republican's secretly taped remarks during the campaign in which he said 47% of Americans were dependent on government assistance and would not vote for him in any case.
Romney repeated Sunday that he misspoke and made an "unfortunate" statement that did not reflect his desire to help all Americans "There's no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign," he said.
In the Fox News interview, Romney said he still wants to help the GOP find ways to reach out to minorities who voted in droves for Obama and to fix vexing problems with the economy. But he conceded that he lacks "credibility" because he lost a presidential race that many Republicans believed was winnable.
He also said he underestimated the appeal of the national health care law that he and other critics call "Obamacare."
"I'm not going to be telling the Republican Party, 'come listen to me,' the guy who lost is going to tell you how to win," Romney said. "We have to do a better job bringing minority voters in to vote for Republicans ... to help them understand why we're the party with the ideas to make their lives better."
Unsuccessful presidential candidates usually take some time trying to find their footing after the election. Republican John McCain and Democrat John Kerry, for example, threw themselves back into their work in the Senate after their White House defeats following a period of lying low.
But Romney is a former Massachusetts governor, now six years out of office, and appears relishing his role as a doting grandfather who takes his some of his 20 grandchildren to Disneyland or to go skiing or to toss a ball on the beach. Romney said his family foundation will be retooled and refocused on all children, helping them overcome diseases and other issues.
Ann Romney admitted she is having a tougher time recovering from the election loss, and acknowledged that she cried at times because she believes her husband would be doing a better job than Obama.
"I'm mostly over it, but not completely," she said. "You have moments where you go back ... and feel the sorrow of the loss."
She and her husband said Obama had a better campaign, especially when it came to mobilizing voters to go to the polls. They said they knew their supporters were passionate, but that they under-estimated the same fervor Obama had on his side. Ann Romney also blamed the news media, saying there was a bias for Obama.
As for his post-election comments made to donors that Obama gave certain "gifts" to minorities and other supporters, Romney did not criticize Republicans such as Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad or conservative columnist George Will who said such remarks were not helpful to the GOP.
"I'm not going to second guess what other people have to say," Romney said. "Look, I don't look back. I look forward."