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
I have never disliked a politician more than Mitt Romney.
He has changed his platform like no one else and is the most arrogant politician I've ever seen. He is too condescending, arrogant, self-righteous, to be an effective leader. He has built a history of public statements which contradict themselves and has acquired the reputation of a slick adaptable politician who often bends the way the wind blows. He was always in this contest for himself.
"Vote Hillary, most Middle East Countries treat women like dogs, just wait and see how they treat this country. The will have no mercy on the U.S. when Hillary is our leader. They will laugh while she tears up..."
Just to show how ignorant you are – have you not heard of Benazir Bhutto? She was a woman prime minister in the Middle East many years before a woman is actually a serious contender for the presidency of the USA (today). Not all of the ME is Saudi Arabia – the Saudi Arabians are the true extremists and it is them we support! Shows our true intentions – spreading democracy or just an oil war?
Mitt was the best!
This was tough to take...I think it will continue to splinter the Republican party. Maybe 2012 will be Mitt's destiny!
Did he really have to announce his withdrawal at the CPAC conference, where he made himself the martyr and made John McCain look selfish? How good is that for the party?
He was just one outsider (don't count Huck), who really can make change the Americans pray for. There is a good saying: "People have the government they deserve". So sad.
Quote "What a loser. Using "the war" as his reason for dropping out. Romney is such a phony. Why didn't he admit what is true: Despite spending a lot of his own money and changing his position to fit the perceived opinions of the Republican primary voters, he got his butt kicked and his strategy didn't work.
But no. Instead he wraps himself in "the war" and tries to make it appear that he is quitting the race because of his high-minded concerns about the safety of this country. How pathetic, transparent and mendacious. This is a man who treats the voters as if they were six years old."
Who is acting like a six year old?
If Mitt and his boys believe so much in this war, they can start by paying for it with the money Daddy earned closing down factories and sending our jobs overseas.
But wait a minute, isn't the republican philosophy to spend us into oblivion and bankrupt the country so we can hire Amercians back at slave wages.
This just wasn't Mitt's time, to be honest. If Obama or Hillary win the presidency, Mitt will have a better go in 2012, as McCain will be out of gas as far as having any chance at winning the nomination. But if McCain wins the presidency... well, Mitt won't be anywhere he isn't already.
I thought the reason we went into Iraq was to get Saddam. He is dead, isn't he? Which means we won, right? I am so tired of the Reps crying wolf and telling us that if we don't vote for them, the bad guys are comming to get us. So if a dem gets in office, the fanatics are going to overthrow the government? Give me a break.
The Dems will not cut and run from Iraq, that is just rhetoric to get elected. If the US leaves the war would not end, it would escalate. The president doesn't have the power on his own to get us out of Iraq, it took both parties to get us in there it will take both to get us out. This Romney supporter is now considering Obama for the healing he may bring our nation. It may be expensive, but maybe we better just get on with it.
Romney supporters.....if you have yet to vote in your state's primary or caucus, STILL VOTE. Don't just stay home. Show the GOP that we stand firmly behind Romney, despite his backing down.
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!
Bobby, in case you have been living in a cave...the Bush administration and Republican Senators which inlcludes McCain are responsible for the horrible shape this country is in. This group is the reason other countries have no respect for us. McCain, Romney and the rest plan to continue the horrible Bush policies. If that's okay with you I would say better get ready for a draft and a depression...
There are a lot of bigots in this country. This blog proves it. It's too bad b/c this country was founded on religious freedom. We would do well to study the lives of our fathers.
Mitt Romney is a GREAT man with a wonderful family. It says a lot about Mitt's Character to leave the race knowing he was without a doubt the best Candidate for the Republican Nominee as welll as the Presidency. Mike Huckabee should of left a long time ago and his days are shorten. l hope and pray John McCain will ask MItt Romney to be his running mate. This is the only way to reunite the Republican Party and solidify a victory in November. We need Mitt Romney and anyone who disagrees is a complete idiot. Rush, Sean, Greg and Laura were right on!!
It's people like you that have no real purpose in life. Go bury your head in the sand you clueless liberal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Romney's strategy worked just fine, the Republican party is doomed unless we find a way to reunite and come together as a TEAM!!!!!! Are you ready for Hillary?????????????????
Romney was definitely double teamed, if he were that type of person, he could give Huckabee his delegates and maybe Huckabee would give McCain a run for his money .
go obama republican make it a lot easy now you just have to deal with clinton for a litte......
I am really confused, Obama and Clinton are crying out for change, am I missing something, haven't they been in Washington for the past 5-10 years. Why haven't they changed anything yet. It seemed to me that Romney was the only outsider that could really claim the Change card. Oh so be it, I will try to find another person that I think can make a change.
I am sorry to see Romney go. He could have turned the economy around. As a Democrat leaning independent, I MOST certainly dont want to vote for Obama. He has gathered so many delegates largely on the shoulders of African-Americans and Young people. Do the African-Americans think he is actually going to advance their issues??? Haven't they learned from Clarance Thomas? McCain is too old to be president, but I think if Obama is the Dems nominee, I will vote McCain.
Huck needs to win 83.33% of the remaining votes to win the nomination, using the AP numbers from today. Impossible, as much as I love the Governor. I think he will win a few more states and go to the convention as a strong presence and make himself a stronger case for VP to the rest of the Republican Conservatives. As much as McCain is being sliced and diced by conservatives, it is probably a good thing for the general elections that he can attract independents and more liberal Republicans. Combined with Huckabee they may cover many needs in the general election!
WOW, His action to drop out has renewed my faith in a God!!! My prayers were answered!!!
Huckabee is the best Candidate for the Republicans. He is the most sincere and most caring about his Nation. I hope he wins the nominee as McCain has the same mind set and priorities as Bush which will result in the further deroding of the Nation.
I so agree with April. Shee said exactly what I would have said. I still would have voted for McCain over a Democrat, but I would have prefered Romney and above every one of them I would definitely have chosen Huckabee. Romney has spent a ton of money on campaigning and yet Huckabee has barely spent any. He might not have too good of a chance, but I agree right on with him on every issue!!
Don't cry – he's got "a plan"....stay tuned, Mitt "ain't" going away. Sometimes you have to crawl before you walk.