WASHINGTON - For Mitt Romney, there will be no next chapter in politics -- at least no third run for the presidency. But in his first post-campaign interview, the former Massachusetts governor did not shy away Sunday from his criticism of President Barack Obama and said he hoped to help the Republican Party regain its footing -- from a distance.
"I recognize that as the guy who lost the election, I'm not in a position to tell everybody else how to win," Romney said on "Fox News Sunday."
"They're not going to listen and I don't have the credibility to do that anyway. But I still care. And I still believe that there are principles that we need to stand for."
Criticizing the stalemate on the sequester -- $85 billion in automatic spending cuts mandated because Democrats and Republicans could not agree on terms to forestall them -- the former Republican presidential nominee accused Obama of "campaigning" by flying around the country "berating Republicans," instead of pulling aside Democrats and a few Republicans to cut a deal.
"It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done," Romney said. "The president is the leader of the nation. The president brings people together, does the deals, does the trades, knocks the heads together; the president leads. And I don't see that kind of leadership happening right now."
Romney said the nation was in the midst of "a golden moment" to fix its fiscal problems, but was watching it "slip away with politics."
Obama, he charged, has been more interested in winning a political victory than resolving the issue: "This is America we're talking about at a critical time," he said, "You know, Nero is fiddling."