Romney also said the administration's promise to offer what he called "amnesty" to the children of illegal immigrants — what he termed "the so-called DREAM Act kids" — helped send Hispanics to the polls for Obama.
Young voters, Romney said, were motivated by the administration's plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and being able to remain on their parents' health insurance plans. Young women had an additional incentive to vote for Obama because of free contraception coverage under the president's health care plan, he said.
"I'm very sorry that we didn't win," he told donors. "I know that you expected to win. We expected to win. We were disappointed; we hadn't anticipated it."
Romney said he and his team were discussing how his donor group could remain connected and have an influence on the direction of the Republican Party and even the selection of a future nominee — "which, by the way, will not be me."
Asked about Romney's remarks, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential contender for the GOP nomination in 2016, strongly condemned those in the GOP who classify voters based on income, race or age and said the party cannot concede wide swaths of voters and expect to win elections.
"We have got to stop dividing the American voters," Jindal told reporters in Las Vegas, where the Republican Governors Association was meeting. "We need to go after 100 percent of the vote, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote."
Associated Press writer Philip Elliott in Las Vegas contributed to this report.