WASHINGTON (AFP) - Defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said it "kills" him to be just another spectator rather than US president as political gridlock paralyses Washington.
"It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done," Mr Romney told Fox News in an interview broadcast on Sunday, his first since losing to President Barack Obama last November.
The former Massachusetts governor blamed the Democratic president for the latest crisis to hit the US capital - the so-called sequester spending cuts totaling US$85 billion (S$105.7 billion) this year.
Mr Romney said Mr Obama is still behaving as if he were in campaign mode, flying around the country to push his arguments on how to reduce the deficit - and blaming Republicans along the way - rather than forging bipartisan consensus.
He also said that as the loser of a presidential election, it is natural that the Republican party not treat him as a go-to guy, but he still wants to be a force in conservative politics.
"I recognise that I lost, so I'm not going to be the - the leader of the Republican party. Other people will take that - that mantle," Mr Romney said in the interview, in which his wife Ann also spoke.
"But I want to have influence on getting our party into a position where we can be successful in solving the problems the country has," Mr Romney said.
Describing election night last November, Mr Romney said that as key swing states Virginia, Florida and Ohio fell to Mr Obama, one after another, he slowly realised he was not going to be president of the United States after all.
"It's emotional. I mean, there was such passion in the people who were helping us, I just felt, you know, we have really let them down," he said.
Ann Romney said she cried that night, but is now getting on with her life with her husband, their five sons and 20 grandchildren.
"I'm mostly over it," she said. "But not completely." She also confirmed she had been approached to take part in the popular reality television show Dancing With The Stars and even thought about saying yes.
"I did consider it," she said. "I love the show."