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“We were in a big fight. We came with a knife; they came with a gun,” Bennett said. “If Mitt Romney had responded and had we responded on his behalf — and had his campaign pushed back more forcefully — I think it would have been a different result.”

Jindal, however, attributed Romney’s loss to a lack of “a specific vision that connected with the American people.”

“His campaign was largely about his biography and his experience,” Jindal said. “But time and time again, biography and experience is not enough to win an election. You have to have a vision, you have to connect your policies to the aspirations of the American people. I don’t think the campaign did that and as a result, this became a contest between personalities and — you know what? — Chicago won that.”

Romney cast his loss in a different light, at least in a phone call with top donors Wednesday. He asserted that Obama won re-election because of the “gifts” the president had already provided to blacks, Hispanics and young voters and because of the president’s effort to paint Romney as anti-immigrant.

“The president’s campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift,” Romney said, citing immigration proposals aimed at Hispanics and free contraception coverage that appealed to young women. “He made a big effort on small things.”

Romney said his campaign, in contrast, had been about “big issues for the whole country.” He said he faced problems as a candidate because he was “getting beat up” by the Obama campaign and said the debates allowed him to come back.

The Republican nominee didn’t acknowledge any major missteps and said his team had run a superb campaign.