The following is Mitt Romney's address as prepared for delivery Friday, March 15, at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.:
What an honor to be introduced by Governor Nikki Haley, a woman of uncommon courage and conviction; whose principles have guided her governance. We need more governors like her!
I've also had the honor of your support from the very beginning. You gave my campaign an early boost. You worked on the front lines—promoting my campaign, turning out voters. Thank you.
With help from so many of you, I had the honor of becoming my party's nominee for president. I was given the privilege of experiencing America in ways Ann and I had never imagined. Across this great country, our fellow citizens opened up their homes and hearts to us.
Of course, I left the race disappointed that we didn't win. But I also left honored and humbled to have represented values we believe in and to speak for so many good and decent people. We've lost races before, and in the past, those setbacks prepared us for larger victories. It is up to us to make sure that we learn from my mistakes, and from our mistakes, so that we can win the victories those people and this nation depend upon.
It's fashionable in some circles to be pessimistic about America, about conservative solutions, about the Republican Party. I utterly reject that pessimism. We may not have carried the day last November 7th, but we haven't lost the country we love, and we haven't lost our way. Our nation is still full of aspirations and hungry for new solutions. We're a nation of invention and of reinventing. My optimism about America wasn't diminished by my campaign; no, it grew—It grew as I came to know more of our fellow Americans.
I have seen American determination in people like Debbi Sommers. She runs a furniture rental business for conventions in Las Vegas. When 9/11 hit and again when the recession tanked the conventions business, she didn't give up, close down, or lay off her people. She taught them not just to rent furniture, but also to manufacture it.