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Romney to make first major public appearance at CPAC

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will address CPAC, the annual gathering of conservative activists in Washington, Romney aides confirmed to NBC News.

"This is an opportunity for him to express his appreciation to supporters and friends," one Romney adviser told NBC News about the speech, news of which was first reported by National Review Online.

The speech marks a return to the public spotlight for the former Massachusetts governor, who's kept a low public profile since his loss to President Barack Obama on Nov. 6.

Romney addressed CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, last year; during his speech, he described himself as "severely conservative," a term turned back against him by the Obama campaign during the general election.

CPAC was also where Romney announced his withdrawal as a candidate for president in 2008.

One source said that the date of Romney’s speech has not yet been finalized  The conference runs from March 14 - 16.

Romney’s former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will also be addressing the crowd, as will his former rival for the 2012 Republican nomination, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

“The thousands gathered at CPAC this year are eager to hear from the former 2012 GOP presidential candidate at his first public appearance since the elections,” said Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC. “We look forward to hearing Governor Romney’s comments on the current state of affairs in America and the world, and his perspective on the future of the conservative movement.”