February 7th, 2008
02:37 PM ET
6 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. Jack

    Willard you really should have stuck to the business world because you don't understand what is happening in the real world. Iraq was an enemy of the terrorists before George Bush toppled the government there.

    The Afghanistan war is in trouble because George Bush tied down our troops in a civil war in Iraq. The GOP is only after "oil profits" and have totally mismanaged the "War on Terror".

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

    Willard Romney – you really should have stuck to the business world because you don't understand what is happening in the real world. Iraq was an enemy of the terrorists before George Bush toppled the government there.

    The Afghanistan war is in trouble because George Bush tied down our troops in a civil war in Iraq.

    February 7, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Matt

    There is only one real conservative Republican running and that is Ron Paul. Since the beginning he has not changed. He will end the war in Iraq. He will dramatically reduce taxes AND the national debt billowing over to the next generation. He is the only candidate willing to tell the truth, mean it, and believes in the hope of the original American dreams envisioned by our country's founders. Restore the Constitution! Vote Ron Paul!

    February 7, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. Sam

    These guys have to back the war in Iraq since they are the ones that fabricated the need to kill our young soldiers and 100's of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, destroy that countries infrastructure, waste billions in US tax dollars, and making their friends at Halliburton, other defense contractors and oil companies richer.

    Mean while, the US schools are dilapidated, teachers are under paid, the curriculum is poor, all kids are left behind, our infrastructure is falling apart, bridges are collapsing, streets and hi-ways are in disrepair, homelessness is getting worse because our young soldiers are returning from this illegal war and being neglected, corporate fraud has never been higher and drugs continue to get into this country and into the hands of our children only to fill up our jails so we have to build more which results in those people to become jobless and homeless................Oh and did I mention the mortgage debacle under the republican watch which exploited people into thinking they could afford a home they had no business messing with………………...

    .................and in the mean time, all our constitutional rights are being stripped away. How fun is that!

    Obama 08

    February 7, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. GB

    Too bad Romney didn't get to have the entire country vote before dropping out. Now the Texas Republicans don't have a republican to vote for next month... :(

    February 7, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. Jack

    “Barrack 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.”

    WOW – Mitt Willard Romney – GOD doesn't like people that exaggerate the truth – and boy are you in trouble!

    February 7, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. Jack

    “Barrack 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.”

    Mitt Willard Romney – GOD doesn't like people that exaggerate the truth – and boy are you and George in trouble!

    February 7, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Jeff Jones

    Its not over yet... Huckabee could get some of Romney's delegates and could win this weekends primaries. Then the Christian Right can accomplish their goal of creating a moral utopia.

    February 7, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    Too bad, he was the least dangerous of the GOP candidates. (and I don't mean in the sense that he couldn't win)

    February 7, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. Keith

    Romney is smart to "suspend" his campaign rather than end it altogether. Old man McCain could keel over at any minute and Romney could get his campaign going again!

    February 7, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. JC

    I have to thank the anti-mormon bigots for providing a good opportunity to

    “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.”

    February 7, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. Anna in Iowa

    I don't know what is going to happen but I very disappointed today.

    February 7, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  13. SadDay

    Well now that the ONLY true Republican is out of the race, that leaves us with 3 Liberals. I will cast my vote for Obama as I feel he is the most honest of the 3 Liberals left.

    February 7, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. dave

    Republicans who talk of not voting for McCain in the general election are either idiots or liberal imposters trolling this message board. I just hope Hillary wins the nomination so its a cake walk for the Republicans this fall!!! Obama should lose too if he wins though.

    February 7, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  15. brian

    I am really surprised he quit now. I did think he would eventually realize he wasn't going to get the nomination but I thought he would need to lose most of this weekend's and Tuesday's caucuses and primaries for it too sink in. His ego is that great.

    My question is now, how completely out of touch with reality are Mike Gravel and Ron Paul that they are still in it?

    February 7, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. SecondSage

    Romney was the realest Republican, it would've made a respectable race in november. I'm laughing at Rush and Hannity but I don't want to see the Reps unite.

    The only Republican I'd consider is Ron Paul and he's not going to win.

    OBAMA!!!!!!!

    February 7, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  17. abb

    Did I tell you already that you are an idiot? Sorry if I forgot, but you really are.

    February 7, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  18. Chris in Va.

    Dracula's gone!! Who cares!

    February 7, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. Leslie Somerville, Seattle, Washington

    BYE BYE-DON'T SLAM THE DOOR ON THE WAY OUT, YOU FREAK!!

    February 7, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. Steve - St. Louis, MO

    I'm getting very tired of Republicans reverting to name-calling ("Surrender Monkeys") and inaccurate portrayals ("Cut and Run") of exiting George's ego-driven conflict in Iraq (By the way, it's NOT a war, because Congress did not declare war.) For some misguided reason, the far right would go to hell and back defending the endless war-mongering of the repeatedly deferred Bush and Cheney, who are extremely brave when it comes to spilling someone else's blood, while belittling the party that is at least attempting to bring the madness to an end and mop up after our short-sighted leader. I don't think there's anything wrong with bringing our soldiers back from a place they shouldn't have been sent to in the first place. That's the best way to support our troops!

    February 7, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. Anne E., SLC

    Note to Bobby re: "Liberals will win and the U.S. will be attacked again."
    Excuse me, but a Republican was "president" when the U.S. was attacked on 9/11. Guess you didn't you get the memo.

    February 7, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. sprn

    Doug,
    Your grammar shows your intelligence.

    February 7, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. sairefgm

    Rominy is not gone. Do not believe it. McCain has yet to be the republican nominee. Do not be surprise if McCain receeds at the door. Drop out at the last minute and Rominy gets the nomination. This is politics people.

    It is Rominys plan to let the Conservatives run McCain away.

    February 7, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. R Moore

    Doug wrote:
    "So now are choices are McCain or Huckabee?

    More accurately Sargent Carter or Gomer Pyle !!!!"

    Interesting, did you mean "...now OUR choices...," Doug, or should I just call you Gomer Pyle? Poor execution of a shallow and snide remark.

    February 7, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. George, Fl

    Thank GOD this guy is out – honestly, this guy was scary; just look at his farewell speech, this man would continue bush's war-mongering and America would further be plunged into unnecessary wars and consequently weaken our economy. McCain might do the same, but atleast he has less of those die-hard conservative ideas like deporting millions of illegal immigrants (what a joke).
    Hillary '08

    February 7, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
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