FILE In this Dec. 10, 2009, file photo U.S. actor Will Smith and his daugther Willow, left, applaud President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at the end of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at City Hall in Oslo. Obama's campaign raised almost $1 billion to defeat Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, and released a list of 770 top donors Saturday, March 2, 2013. Nearly 250 campaign bundlers each raised at least $500,000 for the president, including Eva Longoria, actors Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Wendell Pierce and film producer Harvey Weinstein. (AP Photo/Odd Andersen)
WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney says his heart told him he was going to win the presidency, but when early results came in on election night, he knew it was not to be.
The Republican nominee told “Fox News Sunday” that he knew his campaign was in trouble when exit polls suggested a close race in Florida. Romney thought he’d win the state solidly.
President Barack Obama ended up taking Florida and won the election by a wide margin in the electoral vote allocated in state-by-state contests.
Romney said there was “a slow recognition” at that time that Obama would win — and the race soon was over when Obama carried Ohio.
Romney said the loss hit hard and was emotional. Ann Romney said she cried.
The interview, which was taped Thursday and aired Sunday, was one of the first major public appearances by the Romneys since the Nov. 6 election. The Romneys are living in Southern California now.
The former Massachusetts governor acknowledged mistakes in the campaign and flaws in his candidacy.
But he joked that he did better in his second run for the White House than he did the first time around — when he lost the 2008 nomination to Arizona Sen. John McCain, who went on to lose to Obama.
He said he won’t get a third crack at it.
Romney said his campaign didn’t do a good job connecting with minority voters, and that Republicans must do a better job in appealing to African-Americans and Hispanics. Obama won more than 90 percent of the black vote and about 70 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Romney said his campaign also underestimated the appeal of Obama’s new health care law to low-income voters.
But he knows that because he lost the race, it’s hard to tell Republicans to listen now to what he has to say about how to improve the party’s message.
Romney, who has kept a low profile since the election, said “you move on” from the disappointment and that “I don’t spend my life looking back.”
Ann Romney said that after the election she was approached by TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” but declined to join the cast.
She said she’ll be turning 64 soon and “I’m not really as flexible as I should be.”