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Mitt And Ann Romney Discuss Life Post-Presidential Campaign; Privacy Advocates Demand Full-Scale Investigation Into Government Surveillance Of Phone Records

Aired June 8, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Many Americans want to know if the U.S. is spying on their phone records and e-mails right now. This hour, we are digging deeper into revelations about secret surveillance programs designed to catch terrorists.

And a CNN exclusive, joint interview with Mitt and Ann Romney on the heart breaking loss of the White House and the grieving that they've been doing ever since.


ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: And a lot of times people burst into tears when they would see me.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let a lot of people down, let ourselves down.


BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

Privacy advocates demand full scale investigation into the federal government surveillance of Americans' phone records and data they keep on the Internet. Bombshell reports this week by "the Washington Post" and "the Guardian." And Britain exposed widespread snooping under secret programs aimed at preventing terror attacks.

Several U.S. officials acknowledge intelligence agencies are secretly collecting millions of Americans' phone records on a daily basis. And the director of national intelligence indirectly confirmed the existence of a program to mine data from some of the world's biggest online companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo! and Facebook. But he says only online activities of foreigners, people overseas are being monitored. These revelations have reignited the debate over protecting Americans' privacy rights while defending the home land at the same time. Here is what the president said about all of this on Friday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If these folks, if the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they've got to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation. So, I want to be very clear. Some of the hype that we've been hearing in the last day or so, nobody is listening to the content of people's phone calls. This program, by the way, is fully overseen, not just by Congress but by the Pfizer court.

Joining is now, the former Democratic congresswoman, Jane Harman. She was the leading voice on intelligence in National Security in the House of Representatives. She is now the president and the CEO of the Woodrow Wilson center here in Washington.

Also joining us, Jeffrey Rosen is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, who is also legal affairs editor for "the New Republic."

Jeffrey, were you reassured on Friday by what the president said about these programs?

JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT, CEO, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: I was not reassured. The president's defense was merely, don't worry, the content of your phone calls isn't being listened in on. But the phone logs themselves, tell numbers and duration of calls are being monitored, and that frankly surprised senators like senator Widen and Udall, and Representative Simpson Brenner who never thought the USA patriot act was supposed to authorize that broad data collection.

The president was not reassuring about surveillance of Google and other Internet data. He said don't worry, it is only foreigners, not American citizens, but there's in fact no assurances that the program that's supposed to identify foreign content with 51 percent accuracy actually is being focused on foreigners for legal troubles there as well.

BLITZER: Jane, you saw that "Huffington Post" picture of the president supposedly being morphed from George W. Bush to George W. Obama. He is getting criticized not just from the right, certain elements, but from the left as well. Were you reassured with what you heard from the president?

JANE HARMAN, PRESIDENT, CEO, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: I certainly was. And I spent many years in Congress focused on these issues. Some things were done wrong, Wolf. For example, I was ranking member on the house intelligence committee from 2003 to 2007.

From 2003 to 2005, I was briefed on something called the terrorist surveillance program, which was the precursor of this phone program, and I was assured that it complied fully with law. Only when the program was declassified by the White House after it leaked to "The New York Times" did I learn that the foreign intelligence surveillance act, the law passed by Congress in 1978 to deal with the interception of communications was not being followed and it took two more years for Congress to modernize FISA and make certain this program was covered and reviewed by the FISA court as well as fully briefed to Congress. That's one of the problems we're talking about.


HARMAN: And the president repeated, I just wanted to finish this that we are not listening, not, to the content of phone calls.

BLITZER: So you were reassured by what the president said.

HARMAN: I was.

BLITZER: But Jeffrey, you're not reassured at all. Let me read to you what the director of national intelligence says about all of this. This is James Clapper. Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

What I hear you saying, Jeffrey, is you don't necessarily trust the director of national intelligence or the president for that matter when it comes to these reassurances.

ROSEN: I don't. Trust us is not the model the constitution says is compatible with the fourth amendment. And Mr. Clapper's statements are inconsistent with those of the president who said he welcomed debate about the balance between privacy and security. Of course, it is impossible to have that debate if you attempt to prosecute leakers as this administration has done and deplore the leak itself.

And I really think that even if the program was authorized by Congress as representative Harman suggests, there are serious questions about its constitutionality and there are arguments that it really needs to be independently reviewed not by the FISA court which is a secret court that doesn't make independent constitutional judgments, but by federal courts and ultimately Supreme Court.

HARMAN: Wolf, can I make a comment on that? The FISA court is a rotation. The people on it are federal judges and they rotate in and out of that court, which was created specially with high skill sets by these judges to review these things, and everyone supports an individualized warrant, which is what the fourth amendment requires, to listen to phone conversations of U.S. persons, Americans, who are legal residents in the U.S. and the listening is prospective, not retroactive. So, I think the press reports are really inaccurate and it is unfortunate. The president did clarify a lot of this yesterday.

BLITZER: You know, the point that "The New York Times," Jane Harman, made in the editorial written before the president came out and made those comments Friday, I will read a couple lines, the administration referring to Obama administration, this is "The New York Times" editorial board, has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.

Now, that's not from the right wing, that's "The New York Times," Jane Harman, those are explosive words.

HARMAN: They're explosive words, Wolf, and they're not accurate. This is a program that fully complies with a law that Congress passed in 1978, updated in 2007, has reviewed a number of times since. The section that's relevant here, there's sort of also the patriot act and they overlap, sun sets every three years, so Congress has a chance to review it again.

And let me say one more thing. I don't think the law is perfect, it is very hard to have a perfect law in this area. I think it should be reviewed and I think public debate should occur and I have been calling, in fact I have done it on your show, Wolf, for a review of all of our post 9/11 framework. I think we should review how we do detentions and interrogations, we should close gismo and strict framework around use of drones.

It is important that Americans believe in what we're doing and that we have a narrative to explain what we're doing to the rest of the world. So again, nothing is perfect, but it is very unfortunate when an editorial in a newspaper I read daily is blatantly inaccurate.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, do you believe the chairs of the respective house and Senate intelligence committee, Jane Harman, Mike Rogers, when they say this procedure, this surveillance saved American lives, stopped terror attacks in the United States?

ROSEN: Of course, I have no basis for evaluating that statement because I don't have the evidence they have access to. I respect them deeply and I am sure that they believe that this works in good faith. But I would just say that even although this program was authorized by law, there is a serious question about whether this law as its being interpreted by the administration is consistent with the constitution. And I am glad the president is welcoming debate, but we can't have that debate until his administration releases the legal memos it believes justified its rather adventurous interpretations of the laws. We need those released.

BLITZER: We will see if they will. Good discussion. Jane Harman, thanks for joining us. Jeffrey Rosen, thanks to you as well.

When we come back, our Gloria Borger's exclusive joint interview with Mitt and Ann Romney. They open up about life together after the campaign and what it is like, in Ann's words, going from 100 miles per hour to zero.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

Here in the SITUATION ROOM, Mitt and Ann Romney, they are opening up about the 2012 election presidential election and wrenching loss that took both of them by surprise.

CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger met with them in Park City, Utah, where he hosted a conference for leaders of both parties and well as major Republican donors. Mitt Romney admits there are some things he wishes he had never said, things he wishes he could do over, and things he wants to see his party do differently in the future.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I have to ask you this first. Are you over it?

MITT ROMNEY: Yes, yes. I mean, Ann and I went through an extraordinary process to become president and her first lady, and that didn't happen. We were extraordinarily disappointed, let a lot of people down, let ourselves down.

ANN ROMNEY: I am over it. It is still hard to watch things and watch the news and feel like you wish you were there, but you move on.

BORGER: You're in the public eye every single day for what, almost two years.


BORGER: So, how do you go from that?

ANN ROMNEY: To going 100 miles per hour to zero.


ANN ROMNEY: That's what it is like, you're in this bubble of secret service and automobiles and planes and private, you know, jets, the 737s and the entire press corp. following you, then bang, done. I mean, for anyone it would be a difficult adjustment. Mitt's father used to say this, and I loved it, he said politics is the fastest way to go from who's who to who's that.

BORGER (voice-over): Especially when you lose. The trappings of power may go away, but post game analysis lives on.

(on-camera): Some people say the problem is the party, some people say the problem with your campaign was the Romney campaign and the candidate. Have you sort of done a lot of searching about that, about where that balance was?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I feel pretty good about the fact that the team, the party, the people who worked in the campaign, Ann and myself, our sons, we left it all in the field. But lessons learned, clearly we can do a better job as a Republican party in registering Republicans and getting people out to vote. And as a campaign, and as a campaigner, the next person that's our nominee has to do a better job than I did at connecting with minority voters, getting more support from minority families and with families hoping to make it into the middle class.

BORGER: Well, Ted Cruz recently said the lost of the last election, want to talk about the middle class, minority families, was the 47 percent remark. You said that was it.

MITT ROMNEY: The 47 percent were with him who believe that they're victims.

BORGER: Do you look back on that and say that hurt the party? MITT ROMNEY: I don't know that any particular remark hurts the party, but in terms of prospects for the election, I would say that was a statement that was of course not a statement if you will, it was taken off the record, but nonetheless and it did not reflect my views. I said that it didn't come out the way I wanted it to. But surely that didn't help me and other things didn't help me either. Obviously, a hurricane with a week to go before the election stalled our campaign.

BORGER: Do you blame Chris Christie as much as others?

MITT ROMNEY: No. I wish the hurricane hadn't happened what I did because it gave the president the chance to be presidential and be out showing sympathy for folks that is one of the advantages of incumbency he was there. But you know, you don't look back and worry about each little thing and what you could do differently, you look forward.

BORGER (voice-over): There was a post election meeting at a White House with a vague promise to keep in touch.

(on-camera): Have you heard from them?

MITT ROMNEY: I haven't heard from the White House since our meeting, and you know, that was a very gracious thing, the president and I had a very cordial meeting, shared lunch together, and I spoke about presidential legacies.

BORGER (voice-over): And speaking of legacies.

(on-camera): The president has been dealing with a lot of problems in Washington these days, one of them is the IRS controversy. Do you believe there was an attempt to hide the IRS targeting in the middle of your presidential race?

MITT ROMNEY: I believe the IRS individuals conducted a series of acts which were a breach of trust.

BORGER: But, do you think it had to do with hiding it because they were in the middle of a presidential campaign?

MITT ROMNEY: I think they certainly hid the activities of targeting conservative groups, otherwise there would have been an outcry about it.

BORGER: Would it have changed the outcome of the campaign had you known about it?

MITT ROMNEY: You know, the election was close enough in the outcome with what, four percent difference between the two campaigns, that a number of things could have changed the outcome.

But again, you don't look back and say couldn't we have just changed this, you say where do we go now. The president won, I congratulate his team on having won, that's the nature of politics is winning, they won, nice work, and let's get on with it. BORGER: Romney picked up the debate right where he left off, sounding tougher on Benghazi than he did during the campaign. MITT ROMNEY: Why, for instance, Special Forces, told they had the capacity to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi to provide rescue support for our personnel there, were told to stand down.

Who told them that, why, where did it come from? Why was there no rescue effort? What was the mistake made, and who made that, and how can we make sure that never happens again. Was the White House informed? Why not if they were not, why was the president not informed of an attack in our embassy. In the situation room, it is, if you will, an attack on America.

BORGER (voice-over): Romney sits on the sidelines now, hoping to mentor the next batch of Republican presidential hopefuls, and offers some playful advice.

MITT ROMNEY: Don't make any mistakes. Be perfect. And the funny thing is, everyone says be spontaneous. You know, don't like you are being trusted. Well, today, everything you said is being captured by video or handheld cameras and so forth, and so, jokes for instance, will get you in trouble. Any time you're trying to be funny.

BORGER: Happened to you.

MITT ROMNEY: Yes. I mean, it just got to be very, very careful.

BORGER: I have to ask you about Clint Eastwood. That was your idea, right?

MITT ROMNEY: Oh, I love Clint Eastwood.

ANN ROMNEY: It was Clint's idea, you mean with the chair?

BORGER: Well, I mean having, and then the chair.

MITT ROMNEY: Clint was the chair. It was my idea to have Clint.

BORGER: Do you regret that?

MITT ROMNEY: No, I love Clint. And Clint, he has his own way of saying things.

BORGER: Do you regret that?

ANN ROMNEY: No. He's unique.

BORGER: So no?


ANN ROMNEY: No regrets.

MITT ROMNEY: Clinton hurt by campaign. I hurt my campaign a couple of times. Clint didn't.

BORGER: Would you have any of your sons runs for public office because Tagg? You know there was talk about Tagg, maybe he is running --

MITT ROMNEY: Running as a Republican in Massachusetts?

ANN ROMNEY: I would say to Tagg --

BORGER: That's happened before.

ANN ROMNEY: Yes. But I would say, don't do it.

MITT ROMNEY: It depends on the circumstance. If one of our boys or our daughters in law finds themselves in position whey they could make a real contribution and they are needed, school board, mayor, congress, whatever, I'd expect them to stand up and volunteer, if their life was in a setting that allowed that to happen.

BORGER: Sounds like you're a yes and you're a no.

ANN ROMNEY: (INAUDIBLE) about it, really hard. Because I think of what the family has to go through.


BLITZER: Coming up, Ann Romney, one on one with Gloria. What she says her husband would be doing differently if he were in the White House right now.


BLITZER: Just saw part of Gloria Borger's joint interview with Mitt and Ann Romney, now to some of her conversation with Ann. She spoke a lot more about what it was like in her words going from 100 miles per hour to zero at the end of the campaign.


ANN ROMNEY: We knew that our life was more important, our private life, and that this public life that was a unique thing you go through, and you go back very quickly to enjoying being together and to enjoying a little bit more slow pace. It is an adjustment, however.

BORGER: But, talk more about that because you just don't go from 100 to zero.

ANN ROMNEY: No, you don't. And you know, there is obviously, in any process, whether a grieving process, there's an adjustment period that you go through. But I feel like we have come up the other end. Whatever it was, --

BORGER: You did do the grieving?

ANN ROMNEY: You do. I mean, it is like a grieving. And I have to say the most common refrain that I heard when I would see people and that were sad as well about the outcome of the election as they said that to me, they feel like they're grieving, and they said nobody died but I feel like somebody died. And that was their reaction when they would see me;. And a lot of times people burst into tears too when they would see me.

It just happened yesterday again. It is happening less and less where people see me and they start to cry, but I think that, you know, it was pretty evenly divided in this country, it was a pretty close race, and there are about half the country that still literally went through a grieving process when we lost.

BORGER: Was it harder for you because you thought you were going to win?

ANN ROMNEY: I think so. I think Mitt was more balanced about the whole thing. He's always very rational about everything. And he was saying how close this election was going to be, and this is a difficult race, and you know, he was always saying that. And I said don't worry about it, we're going to win.

On the campaign trail, I would see people, they would be so intensely, you know, concerned about the country and everything. I said don't worry, we're going to win. And I felt that, I really, truly felt we were going to win. And so, I'm glad as I look back that I felt that way, because it is the way I had to feel because I believed in it, I believed in Mitt, I believed in what we were doing. For me, I had to believe we were going to win as well for it to be OK for me to even go through what we had to go through.

BORGER: But of course because after 2008 you were the one that said to Mitt Romney never again, and then you changed your mind.

ANN ROMNEY: I did. I completely -- I just knew we had to do it again, and I will tell you, Gloria, I know we never will do it again. It is like OK, that's twice going through this. It is a very difficult thing for families. It is a very difficult thing emotionally to invest yourself at that level, at that depth. And you know, I was just looking at the list of people that are coming to this conference. There's a lot of friends of ours that are going to be here I haven't seen. It was hard for me just to see their names and just say their name because it brought up so much emotion, again, of how committed so many people were, how many people tried so hard, how disappointing it was that we do, we feel like we let people down.

BORGER: Is that the hardest part?

ANN ROMNEY: It is for right now for me. I think it is frustrating as well to see what's going on in Washington. I wish Mitt were there.

BORGER: Why? Why is it frustrating to see what's going on?

ANN ROMNEY: I know that Mitt is a good executive. He is, you know, a lot of people used to say that I was a good campaigner. Well, I would like to say I would love for the American people to have had the opportunity what a good executive Mitt would have been. And being the president is an executive position. It is not a campaign position, it is an executive position. It is a person that acts, that brings people together, that has great vision, has great leadership skills, and takes the country in a new direction, and I think he would have done that. BORGER: So what's frustrating in particular?

ANN ROMNEY: You know, I think everyone thinks the economy is improving, but I think under Mitt, it would have dramatically improved. I think we were in that to make a difference in people's lives to give that opportunity, that economic opportunity, to make sure America would stay competitive in the world.

BORGER: Now, I remember at one point during the end of the campaign when Republicans were piling on the campaign, and you said this is hard.

ANN ROMNEY: Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it, get in the ring.

BORGER: Who were you talking to when you said that?

ANN ROMNEY: Well, you know, you could pick just about anybody at that point, because it felt so many times it wasn't just that we were fighting against, you know, a democratic machine that was operating quite well, but that we were fighting even against some of our own fellow Republicans or even some of our commentors and people that would have -- that should have been a little more helpful.

Now, it is fine, everyone does what they want to do, but you know, you really did feel like you were taking on the world sometimes.


BLITZER: We will have more of Gloria's conversation with Ann Romney just ahead.

When we come back, she talks about the impact of the campaign on her marriage, her health, even why she decided to turn down "dancing with the stars." That's all coming up.


BLITZER: We are back with more of Gloria's interview with Ann Romney. In it, she talks about her relationship, what it was like with her husband now that the campaign is over.


BORGER: What does the presidential campaign do to a marriage?

ROMNEY: You know, for us, nothing, except to make it better. And it's a blessing that we've had this amazing marriage. I think we have a unique marriage. I think we care for each other very deeply. I -- we were always concerned about each other. I think when I was on the road and with -- not with Mitt and, you know, he was -- I would always be calling, being upset, you're working him too hard, stop, stop.

He'd be doing the same thing calling, you know, into my staff, and saying, stop it, don't make her work so hard. So we were -- we were always very, very worried about each other when we weren't together. BORGER: You had a relapse of MS, for example, I remember --

ROMNEY: I had --

BORGER: Super Tuesday.

ROMNEY: I had a little -- a little bubble step there.

BORGER: How are you feeling now?

ROMNEY: I'm feeling terrific. I was very, very careful after the campaign was over for about two months. I was very tired as you might imagine. And I took two months to really just be quiet and recover and rest. And I was very worried at that time that the adrenaline rush with somehow, you know, have some impact on my disease, the lack of the adrenaline rush.

BORGER: So what's next for you? I know there's a cookbook.

ROMNEY: Yes, I've got a cookbook. And I had -- I had an absolute ball doing that, by the way. I've just -- I've had so much fun doing that. And it comes out in October, just before Christmas.

BORGER: Are you cooking again?

ROMNEY: I'm cooking again. Believe it or not, even though I swore I never would after that last child left. I love to cook. So yes, I'm cooking again. Mitt's helping a lot. I mean, you can't believe how helpful he's been in the kitchen, washing dishes, going to the grocery store. He's even doing laundry.

BORGER: Yes. OK. Well --

ROMNEY: He's been great.

BORGER: And then I have to ask you this question. Did you really turn down "Dancing with the Stars"?

ROMNEY: You know, isn't that amazing? I love the show so much, and I actually turned it down.

BORGER: They called you and says --

ROMNEY: They called me a couple of times and I went -- they actually invited me on, and I went to the final last -- was it the season before. And it was after the campaign. I can't even remember what month that would have been. And got to meet a lot of dancers, got to meet who would have been my partner. And I was very tempted. But I decided not to.

BORGER: It's grueling.

ROMNEY: Well, you know, I was a little worried about it for, again, coming off the campaign and how intense it would have been. And, you know, and I told them, I do have MS. I mean, you know, can I -- can I do this? I'm not sure I would have been able to have done it. And I -- I love the show. I'm sure anyone that watches it at all gets hooked and loves it.

BORGER: So no dancing for you with the stars.

ROMNEY: Not with the stars, just with my husband.


BLITZER: When we come back, a nail biting election night and the moment the Romneys both began to realize things weren't going their way. More of Gloria's joint interview. That's next.


BLITZER: We have been hearing from Ann Romney. Now she and her husband tell Gloria Borger about election night and when they realized things weren't going their way.


ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: My team tells me that I was still holding out hope at 8:00. I don't think I was. But I think at 6:00, I was really worried. By 8:00, I think we knew it wasn't going well.



BORGER: I gather Karl Rove was calling.

A. ROMNEY: Karl Rove was, yes, was saying, don't give up. This isn't right. Whatever's happening, our numbers in Ohio are better than what they're thinking. So, yes.

BORGER: And what about you?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think the reason that Karl Rove and others, including members of my campaign team, not all, but some, felt that we were going to win, even as the evening went on, was that we looked at the numbers, and it showed that we were winning among independent voters...

A. ROMNEY: By the margin we should have.

M. ROMNEY: Yes, by a good margin. And they said, well, you're not going to lose Ohio if we win independent voters in Ohio. But we did.

And I think they just hadn't counted on the kind of turnout that would come from various minority groups, where we had not done as good a job as I wish we would have.

BORGER: When did you know?

M. ROMNEY: Well, probably, you know, you don't really know until 7:00 or 8:00, something like that.

BORGER: Exit polls? M. ROMNEY: But the exit polls showed we were struggling in Florida and North Carolina. And we thought we were going to win big in Florida and North Carolina. And so if we were struggling there, that was a pretty good indication.

BORGER: Did you call each other?


M. ROMNEY: I got back about 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon.

BORGER: OK. So you were together?

M. ROMNEY: So we were together. And I said, boy, the exit polls are not good. And Ann said, don't worry. And I said, well, we will watch.

And the numbers came in. And you don't know immediately because the numbers were close. And you don't know until the last counties are counted.

BORGER: Now, you're a numbers guy. And the analytics of the Obama campaign were so stunning, and their door-knocking and their ability to predict the electorate was -- really outgunned your campaign. Did you sort of sit there and go, why didn't I know this? Why didn't I know that?

M. ROMNEY: Oh, no.

BORGER: Why didn't I expect this?

M. ROMNEY: No, no, because we had, I don't know, maybe four or five months in a general election campaign. I was, before that, in a primary campaign. I wasn't the nominee. We didn't begin our general election effort until I became the nominee and began putting people together and doing our get-out-the-vote effort.

But the president had four years. One of the advantages of incumbency and one of the reasons it's difficult to replace an incumbent is, as an incumbent, you don't have a primary. You can raise money during the entire season, use it on the general election. You can hit your opponent when they come out of their primary. And you can build the kind of team -- I think he had as many as 10 times the number of ground workers, paid staff that we had, because he could afford them and we couldn't.

BORGER: Had you written a concession speech?

M. ROMNEY: No. I had written a very good winning speech.


A. ROMNEY: It was great.

M. ROMNEY: And I didn't think we were going to lose. I certainly didn't want to write a concession speech. But at I think around -- I would have to go back and ask other people, but I think around 7:30 or 8:00 when it was pretty clear we were not sure we were going to win, that it was time to begin to put together some thoughts for a concession speech, which I did.

BORGER: Did you stay up half the night?

M. ROMNEY: Well, we had the -- the kids were there.


M. ROMNEY: So we had pizza with the kids and talked about what we were going to be doing next, and what each of them was doing. We put the grandkids to bed.

The next morning, we drove home to Belmont in Massachusetts. We have a condo there we live in. And we -- the refrigerator was bare, so go to the market and get some food.


M. ROMNEY: And we spoke with the Secret Service. They said, look, we'd like to transition over a week or so, maybe a little longer, because you're still very much in the public eye. And we said, no, we would like to transition faster than that. We don't want the taxpayers to be picking up your costs any longer.

We're no longer...

BORGER: So, then it's just the two of you.


M. ROMNEY: Then it's the two of us.

BORGER: Who took it the hardest?

A. ROMNEY: I don't think it was -- I think, initially, maybe I did. I think, initially, I was more upset.

M. ROMNEY: You know, we -- the next day, we went to the campaign office, and the workers were there, all the campaign workers, and gathered. And I got on the stand and spoke to them. And they had worked really hard for a long, long, long time.

A. ROMNEY: There were a lot of tears. A lot of tears.

M. ROMNEY: It's very hard. It's a real heart-wrenching experience, to say, you know, we just didn't get the job done.

But I also said to them, look, life's currency is the friendships you make. And we have made friendships in this campaign we will never forget. We were -- we were in the foxhole together. And this is something we won't lose. And we are all richer from the experience by virtue of those friendships that we've made. BORGER: Because we all saw the pictures of you at Thanksgiving, in California. The governor and the boys at Disneyland. And sort of that was the public face of the Romneys...

A. ROMNEY: Right.

BORGER: ... after the election. And so the question is, what's going on behind that -- behind that public view?

A. ROMNEY: Obviously, there's a lot of healing that has to happen when anything is as traumatic as that -- that you go through.

But I also can be very quickly reminded of how traumatic life experiences are for everyone in this country. People, you know -- we lost an election. Let's put that in perspective. People lost a husband, lost a wife, lost a child. Lost someone in battle. There were so many things that people have to deal with in this life.

And, you know, yes, that was hard. But I think we can put it in perspective very quickly and say, "Aren't we blessed? Aren't we blessed to live in this country?" I think it would have been a better one if Mitt had won, but aren't we blessed? This is an amazing country, amazing people.

M. ROMNEY: We loved the experience. It was hard work. It's -- I said it was like a roller coaster. Yes, there are ups, and there are downs. But you still pay to get on the roller coaster. It's a real thrill and an experience that we will never forget. And frankly, I'd do it again.

BORGER: You would?

M. ROMNEY: Look...

BORGER: Again?

M. ROMNEY: I would do it again, but -- but it's not my time.

A. ROMNEY: I would go with that.

M. ROMNEY: Ann might not, but I would love to do it again. Are you kidding? I'd love to do it and win. But it's not my -- it's not my time. I had my chance. I expressed my views. I didn't win. It's time for someone else now to get in there, and give it their best shot.

And I'm -- I'm optimistic that a Republican is going to win in 2016. But I'm not going to be that guy. There will be somebody else that takes that mantle. And more power to them. I hope I can help them in some way.


BLITZER: Up next, Mitt Romney tells us what he misses and doesn't miss about the presidential campaign.


BLITZER: When Gloria Borger spoke with Mitt Romney, he talked about the lessons he learned in 2012 and about moving on to what comes next.


BORGER: How do you get back to living a life without that single- minded intensity and focus that you have to have during a campaign every single minute of every single day?

M. ROMNEY: I'd say it's almost the opposite. It's easy to live life with family, with household chores you have, with the privacy you enjoy. What's difficult is going into a campaign and becoming extraordinarily focused, day after day, speaking to large groups of people, getting to know individuals one on one, learning their experiences, dealing with the media, that's what's difficult.

BORGER: Dealing with your mistakes.

M. ROMNEY: Dealing with your mistakes. That's what's difficult. That's what's challenging. When that's over, it's like, oh, back to real life. Isn't this great?

So it's not hard going back. It's hard going into the campaign. It's a new experience and a thrill. But at the same time, it's a real challenge.

BORGER: Don't you spend a lot of your time kicking yourself? Like after the 47 percent remark, which was a real problem, didn't you kick yourself?

M. ROMNEY: Oh, yes, I was very upset. There are a number of times that I said things that didn't come out right. And one of the interesting things about campaigns today, unlike probably 25 or 30 years ago, is that everything you say is being recorded. And, you know, now and then things don't come out exactly the way you want them to come out. They don't sound the way you thought they sounded.

And now, with a good opposition campaign, they grabbed it, they blow it up, maybe they take it a bit out of context, maybe they don't, but it obviously is paraded in a way that you hadn't intended. But that's just the nature of politics today and you have to get over it and live with it.

BORGER: Do you miss it?

A. ROMNEY: I'll tell you what I do miss. I miss the associations that we had. The staff that I loved. The Secret Service agents, loved them. Having those -- it was the -- the personal feelings that I had with that. It was exciting. It was a lot of fun; a lot of days were a lot of fun. So yes, I do miss the personal associations that we had.

BORGER: Do you miss it? The limelight?

M. ROMNEY: Not the limelight, no, not the limelight and the constant scrutiny, and the microscope. Seeing if you can -- is your hair slightly out of alignment? What kind of shirt do you have on today? You don't enjoy that. But you do miss the friendships. The friendships we've made during this campaign, and the one before, are life-long friendships. And I wish I could spend more time with those people.


BORGER: Up next, Gloria joins me here in THE SITUATION ROOM. So what struck her most about Mitt and Ann Romney seven months after their failed bid for the White House?


BLITZER: And our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with some final thoughts on this truly excellent interview you did with both Romneys. A lot of folks are saying why have they decided to come out and do these kinds of interviews at this point? Does Romney, for example, look for some sort of political comeback down the road?

BORGER: I don't think he's looking for a political comeback. But I do think he's looking for a job, a role. It can be informal in moving the Republican Party forward. I think he sees himself as a mentor in many ways to some of the folks coming up the ladder. At this conference he hosted in Park City, Utah, you had Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan.

And so I think he wants to figure out a way to come up with ideas, if you will, that would help the Republican Party move. But on the other hand, Wolf, people look at him and they say, okay, Mitt Romney, your campaign didn't do so well, you're somebody who had trouble with your message. So, there's sort of a tug of war about why should we listen to you. He wants to tell people, OK, I'm not done yet.

BLITZER: He even invited David Axelrod, the former presidential senior political adviser, to come out to the event in Park City.

BORGER: He did, who defeated him. Since the session, unfortunately, Wolf, is off the record, we won't be able to know what David Axelrod said. He came there ostensibly to talk about his charity to cure epilepsy, but I guarantee you politics is going to come up. But this is a way for Romney to kind of dip his toe back in the water and sort of get over it, you know?

BLITZER: To move on.

BORGER: They've been going through it, and I think from the interviews as you saw, it hasn't been really easy for them. People who lose presidential races are people who have been in the limelight every day for two years. And then suddenly they lose the trappings, they lose the Secret Service, they lose that single thing they need that they've been pushing them forward for two years. One goal, they lose it in a day and then they kind of look up and say OK, what's next. It's very difficult for them people.

BLITZER: People react differently. John Kerry when he lost, he had the Senate to fall back on. John McCain when he lost, he had the Senate to fall back on. With Mitt Romney, he has no Senate necessarily to fall back on.

BORGER: He has no Senate. And when you -- I've spoken with both John Kerry and John McCain way back about it. It wasn't an easy transition for them, either, because you go back to the Senate and you're one of a hundred. And you're not the person under the microscope. The flip side of that is, living under the microscope isn't all it's cracked up to be, as Romney told us. It can be quite difficult.

BLITZER: Correct me if I'm wrong, but is Ann Romney usually more candid in these kinds of conversations than her husband?

BORGER: Yes, she is a more can did person. She's not a politician in that sense. She's very defensive of her husband, always has been. There was a struggle during the campaign, Wolf, if you'll recall, let Romney be Romney. Talk more about his Mormon faith, talk more about who he is. And I have a sense she believes that never happened as much as she wanted it to happen, that he never broke through, as she put it.

Part of that may have been the campaign, Wolf, and part of that, of course, may have been Romney himself. Because he self-censors so much that he comes across as kind of stiff. And I think what you saw in these interviews was a little bit more relaxed Romney, complaining a touch about what it was like to be on in the campaign. But a little bit more relaxed -- but still Mitt Romney is Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: Yes. And I thought both of them looked great.


BLITZER: Obviously these past seven months or whatever, they've had a chance to unwind, to relax as you say. He looks fabulous. She's lost some weight. He always looks very, very handsome. So, I think they're enjoying themselves.

BORGER: They are. I think they do miss. I really do think they miss part of it, and I think, of course, Romney does kick himself about the mistakes and the what ifs.

BLITZER: Which you went through, and you did an excellent job. Excellent interview as usual, Gloria. Thanks so much for doing that. Gloria Borger is our chief political analyst.

Remember you can always follow what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter, you can tweet me @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.You can like us on Facebook.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.