"I am very sorry that we didn't win," Romney told the donors. "I know that you expected to win. We expected to win.... It was very close, but close doesn't count in this business."
Romney reflected on the trajectory that led to last week's loss, acknowledging that he had "gotten beat up pretty bad" by Obama and his allies after the primaries, but noting his rebound after the first fall debate.
The Republican nominee avoided any recriminations about his team or a second-guessing of their efforts, calling the organization "a very solid team that got along."
Romney added that there was "no drama in the campaign — not that everybody was perfect; everybody has flat sides, but we learned how to accommodate each other's strengths and weaknesses, to build on the strengths."
"The organization did not get in the way," he said.
In words of thanks for his donors, Romney said he never expected the campaign to raise more than $500 million. The Romney team ultimately raised more than $900 million, according to finance chairman Spencer Zwick, who reviewed some of the final tallies during the call.
Romney said he and his team were discussing how to keep the campaign's donor group connected — perhaps with annual meetings or a monthly newsletter — "so we can stay informed and have influence on the direction of the party, and perhaps the selection of a future nominee."
"Which, by the way," he added with a chuckle, "will not be me."
The former Massachusetts governor said he was trying to turn his thoughts to what he would do going forward.
"But frankly," he said, "we're still so troubled by the past, it's hard to put together our plans for the future."