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. CC

    Hey Mark – It must be nice to live in Canada... It may be easier to be in denial when your own country is not the target.

    If you believe Iraq did NOT have an Al Queda presence... You are only fooling yourself... You can't tell me – as I have served my country on the ground in Iraq. You can't tell me – I saw it with my own two eyes.

    Turning our tails and running now because it got hard is the biggest mistake that could be made...

    February 7, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. M.D.

    I am amazed at the complete ignorance of the liberal american. you have very intelligent very good influencial people warning that if any democrates become president and just up and pull us out of the war, or if they (and none of them do ) have the guts and backbone to stand up to the terrorist leaders and back up your defense policy for this country. we are doomed. This is not s joke, it is very serious. yet you all want either hillary who will destroy the country without terrist help or obama who cant manage a Dairy queen, to run this country just so you can say you beat the republicans ? ? . that is no reason to scrap this country i dont believe we have any choices from either side. so why cant we agree on this point and find a way to get some candidates we want instead of the ones big corporate america wants. why cant we take back our election and government without a revolution. i dont think that anyone wants our country to collapse (accept for the clintons they stand to benefite from our demise some way ). if we put as much effort in finding a solution to the problem as we do fighting and bickering we might just pull it off...

    February 7, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. Jacque Bauer

    Hey, Andrew & Bushie. Your comments are juvenile and small-minded. You are jerks, which probably makes your day but at least it is the only language that you have the intellectual capacity to understand..

    February 7, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Anna in Iowa

    Romney has my greatest respect and admiration.

    February 7, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Rob, Shrewsbury, MA

    Hey, essar1:

    Could you maybe expand on your "two dumbest things" remark? For one thing (and it truly is), you mention three things. But for another, you simply transcribed perfectly reasonable quotes from the article, and say "You can't make this stuff up". This is prototypical liberal warfare: If you can't formulate a cogent response on your own- make fun of someone else's! Gee, it must be fun to be a liberal.

    February 7, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Kevin

    "Make Fun Buddy" – Ron Paul to Mitt Romney at SC Presidential debate

    Who is making fun now?

    Good Riddance ya fool.

    February 7, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. Elias

    “I vote the party, not the person.” - that pretty much sums up what is wrong with people who are too attached to either political party. Considering how much republicans supposedly love America, wouldn't it make more sense to say "I vote for whoever is the best person for the country." One would think so. But many people will only vote for the person who represents their party, even if that person is not the best candidate. The current occupant of the Oval Office shows how bad that line of thinking can be.

    February 7, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. CC

    Hey Mark – It must be nice to live in Canada... It may be easier to be in denial when your own country is not the target.

    If you believe Iraq did NOT have an Al Queda presence... You are only fooling yourself... You can't tell me – as I have served my country on the ground in Iraq. You can't tell me – I saw it with my own two eyes.

    Turning our tails and running now because it got hard is the biggest mistake that could be made...

    February 7, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Uduak

    Why is everyone so surprised? We should've seen this coming from a mile away, after his big defeat on Tuesday. He was a joke from the start, good riddance...

    February 7, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Liugi in CA

    Blah blah blah. "I vote the party not the person." What a good soldier mentality. If the party told Republicans to snitch off anyone who didn't think like them, would they become good brown-shirts? Romney probably figured spending his own money to try and buy the presidency was too expensive. C'est la vie, Republican style.

    February 7, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. Howard Masur St. Charles, Illinois

    The election will offer a stark contrast between the Republicans who got us into this catastrophic war and who promise endless war, and the Democrats who will try to end it. Voters should not be mislead into thinking McCain is a moderate.
    His mentality is that of the neoconservative hawks who got us into this mess.

    February 7, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Jason

    "In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

    This man is an idiot. The only sensible thing he ever did was quit the race.

    If anyone on this board ACTUALLY BELIEVES that if Democrats win the White House, "the terrorists win" (whatever that means), please PLEASE, I beg you, do some research, don't succumb to the politics of fear, they only do that to scare the uninformed public. Read up on the candidates, open your minds, figure it out for yourself.

    February 7, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    With only 3 people left in the GOP race, you can bet that CNN will still only talk about 2 of them.

    February 7, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. joe

    Good Riddance. It is obvious he would be another Bush if he was elected. Considering Iraq had NO WMDs and WAS NOT a safe haven for terrorist BEFORE the REPUBLICANS invaded the place then he sure cant blame hte Democrats for wanting to leave the mess the REPUBLICANS created.

    February 7, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Jessica

    What will it take Mike Huckabee to concede ?

    February 7, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. go believe

    Could Obama do the same for the sake of his party? Or Reps may keep running White House for next four years...

    February 7, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Contentbelle

    If the spoiler; Mike Huckabee would have stepped aside because he can never win! Mitt would have over 50% of the deligates and be the clear front runner.

    I hope the people in the remaining states with primaries don't fall for the two Socialist's calling themselves Republicans. Look at McCain's and Hucabee's Record's both have a history of Liberalism.

    We need a true Republican to appeal to undecided voters. Every So Called Change Agent: All Senators with a History in Washington?

    If McCain gets the nomination get ready for four years of a Democrat in the White House: Appointed Judges and Controlled Senate. Giddy Up America: We are in for a wild Ride.

    Don't go anywhere Mr. Romney; American Needs You more than ever! It is sad: The price tag for President of the United States has gone up so high; based on the created image; standard bell curve of Publicity: Rather than Integrity and Platform to get elected.

    Now that it is all about Money:
    (Please: Ask: Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Ross Perot, Forbes, or Mayor Bloomberg : Help the People of the USA contribute or Run for President...)

    February 7, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Scott

    Levi writes...

    " If democrats were any smarter, they would be republicans."<<<

    Nice. How about "If in your youth you are not a Democrat you have no heart. If in adulthood you are not a Republican you have no brain."

    February 7, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. JLD

    Billy, I 1000% concur. "I vote the party, not the person" sums up 100% what is wrong with both the Democratic and Republican parties in this age. Thank God the GOP woke up and picked McCain. Now hopefully the Dems will do the same and select Barack.

    America is taking politics back to the people!

    Obama '08! YES WE CAN!

    February 7, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Diana

    Hey guys. Have you all forgotten Timothy McVie?

    He was one of our own. This isn't an Iraq or Afghanistan issue. No one....not republicans not democrats are going to change the minds of sick individuals who use religion or their miscontrued beliefs to bring some justification to their acts of killing innocent people to convey their miscontrued agendas.

    I would think concern should be focused on what's happening in our own back yard. Economy, health insurance, mortgage crisis......just to name a few.

    Obama or Hillary at this point!!!!

    February 7, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Patriot

    Mitt Romney would have taken us into the next stage of fascism. I'm sorry to see him go.

    February 7, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. Neon

    All conservatives no longer have a voice in this country.

    Endure the pain of the first woman and Communist president of this once-great-nation.

    Look for the American Nationalist party to emerge sooner that expected.

    Woe to America.

    February 7, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Pat

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    Thats why I'm an Independent. Forget the party. Need I throw George Washington's Farewell Address at you?

    Poor Rush and Ann; what will the crazy right wingers do now?

    The more the so called "conservatives" boo McCain and Huckabee, the more I want to see them on a ticket together.

    February 7, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Keith Austin

    Hee hee heeeee!

    "Honorable thing to do". Yer killin' me!

    Spending that much money and getting that many delegates, what the heck did you THINK he was going to do?
    "I'm dropping out because I don't want to support terrorism"? This is a brand new low in spin.

    Now he'll follow the party line and support McCain just like McCain when he abandoned his principles and went stumping for Bush in 2000.

    What a joke. Only authentic guy coming through on the GOP side is Huckabee and Paul. That would be a true conservative dream ticket.

    But it's McCain's turn to be "annointed" because he's "next". Just like they did with Dole in 1996 when Clinton clobbered him.

    February 7, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Dave

    Good riddens, goof-ball!! Wow–even in defeat this clown spins the truth!

    Truth is it was a badly run campaign by a worse candidate for president!!

    February 7, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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