February 7th, 2008
02:37 PM ET
7 years ago

Romney quits race, shocks supporters at CPAC

 Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is suspending his campaign.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is suspending his campaign.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Mitt Romney ended his presidential run Thursday, telling a conservative audience that continuing the race against rival John McCain would make it more likely Democrats would win the White House - and “in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

Boos rose from the audience at the mention of McCain’s name – and shocked calls of “no!” as he made his announcement. One young man in a blue sports coat grasped his head in his hands, his mouth wide open as he watched Romney on-stage.

“Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat,” said Romney.

“And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt.”

The former Massachusetts governor, who conceded the mathematical odds standing between him and the nomination, told activists gathered for the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington that “I must now stand aside, for our party and our country."

As his supporters filed out of the ballroom where Romney made the announcement, many carrying his campaign signs and merchandise, a moderator mentioned McCain’s upcoming CPAC speech – drawing an immediate and sustained chorus of boos from the crowd.

“I didn’t see this coming at all,” said Pennsylvania college student Andrew Coons, holding a Romney sign under his arm. “I was completely surprised. But this was an honorable thing for him to do.”

His friend Andrew Trout added that, despite hostility from many of conservative activists at CPAC this week, John McCain had a shot at winning their support – a great deal depended, he said, on the senator’s speech later Thursday afternoon. Romney represented conservative values better than anyone else in the race, he said, but ultimately “I vote the party, not the person.”

Related video: Romney: 'I hate to lose'

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand


Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. Alli

    It is sad that every Liberal that has posted comments on here has had only hateful or angry things to say. I would think you would be glad that there is a liberal candidate, John McCain, who will now be the Republican nominee.

    February 7, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  2. GavinMR

    Clinton supporter here, but I have to admit, I give this guy a lot of credit. He was extremely well-spoken, used his OWN money, and was dedicated. I also think any rejection of him because of his religion was tragically sad.

    I'm a DEM and voting Hillary, but I'm not blind either; hat's off to this guy and good luck in the future.

    February 7, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. Rich

    What do people think about his supporters? Will they go towards Huckabee or McCain?

    February 7, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  4. AtlantaVoter

    So he quit because he did not want to divide his party and allow the dems to end the war on terror? Translation being the dems would bring our young men and women home and insist the Iraqis step up and manage their own freedom if they want it.

    All of which sounded a whole lot better than "I did the numbers" and something about a "snowball's chance...."

    February 7, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  5. BigTx

    February 02, 2008
    Montgomery, AL – Former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee today signed a campaign pledge, authored by U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), demonstrating “his strong commitment to securing America’s borders as president.”

    I call for a nationwide telecasted debate between Huckabee, McCain & Ron Paul. Let's see how Mike goes head to head against McCain. The American people deserve to have another look. Especially since half of the United States hasn't voted yet.

    February 7, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  6. chris

    Romney is grossly out of touch with the state of the world.
    His immature perspective is dangerous to the policies of this country. The problem is that there are plenty of uneducated people who are easily led astray by his politics of fear and slander. We need lawmakers who shape policies for 2008, not 1952.
    Let's hope Romney's momentum stays down come 2012.

    February 7, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  7. Devil's Advocate

    After reading some of the comments, I feel like I need to say something in defense of the individual who was quote at the end of this specific article. In no way am I suggesting that voting straight party is a positive thing, but I think that we should give the benefit of a doubt that this individual who made this statement, “I vote for the party, not the person” could have possibly had more thoughts behind this quote. Maybe his thought was that most individuals/political figures/candidates in a given political party tend to have the same values and beliefs. In other words, most individuals in a given party tend to share the same general philosophies; hence whey they either call themselves a Democrat, Republican, or what have you. If one focuses on all the 'promises' of each individual candidate in a given party, then the voters tend to get lost/caught up in these 'promises' that are said to win votes – honestly, have all candidates successfully kept all the promises they have made prior to elections?

    Besides, regardless of whether any individual agrees with this person’s statement or not, we have got to look at the positives. This is a young individual who is AT LEAST involved with politics and votes regularly. I’m sure this is more than some individuals can say. It also seems to me that no body is ever happy. If people don’t vote, others get upset because it is their ‘American Duty’. When people do AT LEAST vote, but vote in a way another person find ‘unacceptable’ people get upset. This is America, right? So how a person votes is totally up to them. If they feel it is acceptable to vote straight party line, I’m okay with that. It’s on their shoulders. Even though I personally don’t vote that way, I’m glad I and others can decide how they want to vote.

    And go ahead; leave a comment about this response and how ‘terrible’ it is. Just remember every individual is different in their thinking but that does make them more or less right than others. It’s America and I support your right to make any comments you so desire to.

    February 7, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  8. Devil's Advocate

    After reading some of the comments, I feel like I need to say something in defense of the individual who was quote at the end of this specific article. In no way am I suggesting that voting straight party is a positive thing IN MY OPINION, but I think that we should give the benefit of a doubt that this individual who made this statement, “I vote for the party, not the person” could have possibly had more thoughts behind this quote. Maybe his thought was that most individuals/political figures/candidates in a given political party tend to have the same values and beliefs. In other words, most individuals in a given party tend to share the same general philosophies; hence whey they either call themselves a Democrat, Republican, or what have you. If one focuses on all the 'promises' of each individual candidate in a given party, then the voters tend to get lost/caught up in these 'promises' that are said to win votes – honestly, have all candidates successfully kept all the promises they have made prior to elections?

    Besides, regardless of whether any individual agrees with this person’s statement or not, we have got to look at the positives. This is a young individual who is AT LEAST involved with politics and votes regularly. I’m sure this is more than some individuals can say. It also seems to me that no body is ever happy. If people don’t vote, others get upset because it is their ‘American Duty’. When people do AT LEAST vote, but vote in a way another person find ‘unacceptable’ people get upset. This is America, right? So how a person votes is totally up to them. If they feel it is acceptable to vote straight party line, I’m okay with that. It’s on their shoulders. Even though I personally don’t vote that way, I’m glad I and others can decide how they want to vote.

    And go ahead; leave a comment about this response and how ‘terrible’ it is. Just remember every individual is different in their thinking but that does make them more or less right than others. It’s America and I support your right to make any comments you so desire to.

    February 7, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  9. JD

    I'm a Canadian. My wife is a U.S. Citizen. When she watched Gov. Romney's speech today, she cried quietly. A tip of my hat to Gov. Romney for offering his reputation, his wealth, and his considerable skills to serve this country. Thanks also to those who supported his run.

    February 7, 2008 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  10. Mitch

    I'm disappointed, Romney would make a great president. But hopefully he'll run again in the future.

    But now we need to unite behind McCain if for no other reason than to keep Billary and/or Obama out of the White House.

    February 8, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  11. K, Florida

    To Cnn; I'm a registered Republican I'm sorry that your offended that my comments to Bobby included :
    Margaret Thatcher and Madelaine Albrights names, but they are women and they did deal with the likes of Iran, Iraq. I might also mention Merkel, Marcos and Ghandi. Some more successful than others but the point is, that just because you carry the extra baggage (if you get my drift! nudge, nudge) Doesn't mean you have all of the answers. Please don't justify not voting for someone because you can not see past your own short sighted views of what you think the world is made up of. Thank heavens you are in the minority.

    February 8, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. at

    The anti-Mormon posts are curious as Mitt is such a solid success as a husband, father, employee, boss, business leader, political leader a lot like a few other Mormons I know in my Texas neighborhood.

    I saw caravans of Mormons in trucks and vans leave for Louisiana right after Katrina, giving up weekends at home to clear hurricane destruction and help those families out. Those work brigades used chain saws and shovels to dig familes out. I read in my local paper how the California Mormons opened their homes and churches to house and feed people displaced by the California fires.
    From what i can tell, some of you are haters of anything good and positive, I see nothing wrong with how Mitt or other Mormons live!

    February 8, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  13. Andy, New York, New York

    I'm having a hard time with the word SUSPEND!

    To suspend means to temporarily put on hold. It's the same as postpone. It means he can pick it up later on

    What I think Romney has done is CANCELLED his bid for the presidency. By cancelling his run, he has dropped out of the race for good. There's no coming back.

    Or is there?

    Well, McCain and Huckabee have teamed up to run Romney out of the race.

    This is politics!

    Big John WAYNE McCain in 2008!

    February 8, 2008 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  14. madame m

    Mitt has suffered so much negative attention in the media. Maybe we can now stop hearing about "Mitt the Mormon" or "Mitt the guy that is too good looking to be our next President" or "We would rather have someone that looks like our coworker than someone who lays us off as a President". I find all of the negative remarks sent in the direction of Romney as a product of insecure Americans. I wanted a leader, someone to trust morally and ethically, as well as someone who looked like a boss. I will miss what he could have done for our country.

    February 8, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  15. Krishna

    McCain will need to carry a cane during his session in the white house. they guy can barely walk!

    February 8, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  16. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Good Bye Mitt.

    I think you are decent, except for your stand on the war. In fact, because of the Republican stand on the war, except for Ron Paul, that I would have a hard time voting for.

    February 8, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  17. skier_boy

    Some people are convinced that Ann Coulter would be lost if Sen. McCain is the Republican nominee, just shows that people are uninformed because Ann said she would support Sen.Clinton over Sen. McCain

    February 8, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  18. Ron, SC

    For all those who think this is sewn up and the Democrats are shoe in...

    There's an Orange Alert with your name on it coming soon!!!

    February 8, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  19. A Texas Grandmother

    essar1 wrote: "Romney represented conservative values better than anyone else in the race, he said, but ultimately “I vote the party, not the person.” . . . . . . "You can't make this stuff up!"

    Every hear of speech writers?– whoever wrote Romney's "farewell" speech certainly knew how to play on the American people emotions. Sorry, but we didn't vote the party, we voted the person and Romney was not our choice. And by-the-way, even those who supported Romney are saving "wait for 2012" - if not before. Is Romney really out of the race? He said he was "suspending" his campaign. . . . . but, he did say if the people decided they wanted a real conservative candidate they know where to find him. Republican conservatives angered over McCain's stands on immigration, campaign finance and President Bush's tax cuts are suddenly talking less about stopping McCain and have begun to discuss whether they can influence his selection of a running mate. There are other ways of obtaining the presidency than just BUYING it.

    Some of you people need to learn history - not just American history - but the history of those countries who now hold their citizens hostage - If you value your freedom - be afraid America - BE VERY AFRAID.

    Guess it is voting for the "lesser of the evils" for me again this election year - or perhaps I will sit this one out - if so, it is the FIRST election in which I have not voted in over 40-years. I CRY for America

    February 8, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  20. Dan

    This is all a Republican trick. The are just trying to separate McCain from the Republican party to trick Americans into believing that he is not like the rest of the Republicans. Do not be fooled! He will continue the same agenda's as G. W. Bush and the Republicans. Think about it! You have people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham saying that they will vote for Hillary Clinton over McCain.? Do you really believe that? What it will do is make all the republicans that are sick of their own party (and there is a lot of them!) and the independents and all the undecided voters and make it easier for them to vote for a republican candidate because he must not be like the rest of the republicans if the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham don't like him. It's a brilliant trick but a TRICK none the less.

    February 8, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Andrew, Chicago, Illinois

    “I didn’t see this coming at all,” said Pennsylvania college student Andrew Coons, holding a Romney sign under his arm. “I was completely surprised. But this was an honorable thing for him to do.”

    Is this kid living under a rock or something? Seriously how could you not see this coming at all?

    February 8, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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