Jonathan Helman, CNN
(CNN) — Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney looked back to the moment on election night that he knew he had lost.
“It was a slow recognition, until ultimately when the Ohio numbers began coming in and they were disappointing, I said, ‘Look, this looks like we lost.’ Wasn’t certain. Some people said ‘Oh, look, if this number comes in you could win,’ but by 8 or 9 o’clock it was pretty clear that we were not going to win.”
In his first interview since the 2012 election, Romney reflected on his second bid for the presidency and what happened on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
“I think we were convinced we would win. We saw that the polls were very close, but we knew that the energy and passion was with our voters. My heart said we were going to win,” Romney said Thursday in an interview that aired on “Fox News Sunday.”
He pointed to the exit poll data from Florida as his first sign that it would become a long night. The data suggested a closer race than expected in a state that he thought would go solidly red.
President Barack Obama ended up winning the state by just under 75,000 votes, a victory that was called four days after the election.
Romney said he doesn’t look back at the campaign with anger or regret.
“You look back at the campaign and say, ‘OK, what did the president do well?’ And you acknowledge that his campaign did a number of things very effectively. Of course you rehearse all the mistakes that you made, and I went through a number of my mistakes, I’m sure. Then you think about the things that were out of your control. But you move on. I don’t spend my life looking back,” said Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor did mention that there were a number of factors that made a victory on election night more of a challenge, including a long primary season plagued by numerous attacks from fellow GOP candidates that Romney said were “not on the mark;” the infamous 47% comment taped at a private function in Florida; and the loss of momentum when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast a week before the election.
Describing how he would rate himself as a presidential candidate, he said with a smile, “I did better this time than I did the time before, and I won’t get a third chance. I’m not doing it again.”