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
oh, what a suprise. this guy changed his mind so many times, it made me dizzy. now the real loser emerges.
Mitt, the post for Mormon church president is still vacant. You can be the next prophet.
HA! Good, go back to your crazy Mormon family & church...Buh-Bye creepy guy!
Sorry to see this, Romney was a good candidate, Guess we now will all support Ron Paul.
Never, never,never will we ever vote for insane mccains, and huck who is tied now to his hip.
Mitt , sorry to see you leave the race. We thought you were sincere and had more knowledge about the economy and running the government of all the Repubs running,
We don't count Insane Mccain as any thing but a Liberal Democrat. he's tied to old man Killer Kennedy
WHY!!!!!???? Romney was the best candidate!
AND YES WE WILL!
Two of the dumbest things I have read in awhile:
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!
Wow!!! A candidate that puts his Country's future ahead of his own. McCain and Huckabee need to learn from this lesson in civics. He (Romney) is absolutely right in times of war we cannot sound the horns of retreat. We are not Frenchmen. Now if only Huckabee had the common sense to do the same.
McCain may not have been my first choice and I also disagree with him in many areas, but to hand this country over to the Left wing of the Democratic Party would be a disaster for the United States and freedom loving people of the world. I urge all Republicans and conservative Democrats to get behind McCain at this crucial junction in the life of our country.
Go McCain!!! A real maverick conservative like Ronald Reagan!
thank you Mitt Romney for offering your service to our nation
Fine, one less GOP hardliner to deal with. I'm tired of this nonsensical rhetoric of "victory" and "defeat." There is neither in Iraq; there is only a continuing quagmire that sucks out the blood of our military servicemembers and the tax money of our citizens.
The war must end, and the Democrats will make it happen.
Look folks. If CNN post this response or comment, you surely have learned Romney is nothing more than an anti-south bigot who can be a spoiled brat sometimes when he does not get his way.
And then there were three!
Wow, I am shocked! I do not see McCain as a viable alternative for my vote. I decided after the last election (Bush/Kerry) that I would not vote for the lesser of two evils. This leave Obama as the only viable candidate for a forward thinking republican to consider, and that makes me sad.
It is honorable that Romney has stepped aside but how dare they boo John McCain? These people are idiots.
mccain has never been a part of the Republican party and never will be, so we won't cast a vote for him, Better not to Select a Presidential candidate at all . Than Kennedy's side kick
Romney please stuff it. The Democrats will no more "surrender to terror" than McCain will. What they might not do is launch more useless wars against targets that have / had nothing to do with the "war on terror" to begin with.
I'm really sick of these candidates that try to beat you over the head with a bible while appealing to the worst aspects of humanity.
So now are choices are McCain or Huckabee?
More accurately Sargent Carter or Gomer Pyle !
The 4-year prison sentence begins. Conservatives have no other choices in this election.
Good job dems, you won this year! We won't be voting for McCain.
Great speech Mitt.
And now it's 3!
Maybe Hillary should think of what's best for the country and not just what's best for her as well.
GREAT! Now all Clinton has to do is bow out and we'll be good to go. We could get rid of both people trying to buy their way to the presidency at once!
(and the haters pile on...)
Mitt, it was nice not knowing you. Goodbye, tool.