OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Mitt Romney has told conservative activists gathered near Washington that he's sorry he won't be their president -- but he's still promising to work "shoulder-to-shoulder" alongside them.

In his first public remarks since the November election, Romney said, "It's up to us to make sure that we learn from our mistakes, and my mistakes." He said, "Each of us in our own way will have to step up and meet our responsibility." But he's not expected to play a leading role in the future of the Republican party.

During the campaign, Romney's conservative credentials were sometimes questioned. But he was greeted today with a roaring ovation, and was interrupted by applause several times during his brief remarks.

Advisers said his appearance was designed to thank conservatives for backing his candidacy.

A year ago, Romney won the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll, after describing himself as 'severely conservative."

Speaking to the group today, he encouraged conservatives to study the successes of the nation's 30 Republican governors. He also praised what he called the "clear and convincing voice" of his former running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who spoke in the same ballroom earlier in the day.

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