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. John

    Shame on Mitt for saying “in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.” What a sad and bitter man. Certainly not someone I would want as President.

    February 7, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. 2 Bad

    "but ultimately ,'I vote the party, not the person.'"
    Which is exactly what's wrong with politics in America today.

    February 7, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Colin

    well cnn, you got what you wanted. you never gave romney even close as much attention as mccain. because you know mccain was more liberal and he would not be that bad for you if he was president. well, now our best shot at a good president is gone. thanks alot cnn

    February 7, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. CO

    Any moron who would say "I vote the party, not the person" should be denied the ability to vote and told not to come back until they develop some common sense.

    February 7, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. Anderson

    You are a gentleman, Mr. Romney. We will miss you on campaign trail.

    February 7, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. Ed

    Pull up a chair and watch closely now cause this is the way it works with "Big Money." It was cheaper on the long run to pay Romney off and get him out of the way so the field narrows and the GOP can begin defining their candidate. Romney would have continued to create too much internal conflict which makes McCain look like all he can talk about is continueing Bushes war.

    Well this is where we see the big money deals if we're watching really close. Romney had the opportunity to recoop a sizable chunk of his pocket money he blew by dropping out now. If he stayed in the race republicans would have to spend an extra $10-20 million keeping McCain strong and avoiding being damaged by his own party opponents. This is where the GOP bellys up to the bar and pays Romney to go home and ol Mitt is pure business..... Cut your loses and take the bag of money to recoop all of your out of pocket expenses and head to the house.

    Romney makes it too hard for McCain to think on his feet plus he loses the younger vote because he looks so old beside Mitt. The republicans are playing it smart and narrowing the field will save them much more than if they just paid Romney back every dime he had spent of his own money to get him outta there...

    Huckberry better watch out now cause McCain is not worried about him. The GOP will be pouring money on McCain trying to turn him into GOLD and the Huck will be out of his league in contributions within the next two weeks. They will dry up and he will likely go to the house with his tail between his legs and the GOP won't have to pay him a dime because he will have a choice of losing ground everyday with the money hole just getting darker by the minute. Then the GOP will offer the Huck a deal if he bails out and endorses McCain but only if he kicks in his support will he get as sweet of a deal as the Mitt caught today...

    Watch out people cause "Big Money" is getting ready to create their candidate for the front page daily as the "Golden Boy." The Dems better get it together and paint him as the war monger who must be getting senile and ready for the rocking chair and his Golden Years if he will buy the garbage Bush has been feeding Americans. Make McCain own his party's pork barrel spending that has devalued the dollar to a dime and created more inflation than we have seen since Gerald R. Ford....

    February 7, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. Ilene

    Yeah...blame it on the democrats.

    February 7, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Hillary's Financial Salvation

    Hey, Howard, Mark, Terry, Bill and the rest. Call Limbaugh, Hannity, Colter, O'Reilly and the rest of the "neocon" asylum. McCain's just clinced the GOP nomination and they want Hillary! Here's the solution to all your financial prayers. Pay back that loan and move forward. A buck's a buck. One nagging questions is "How Nuts Is Too Nuts".

    February 7, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Dr. Truth, Boston

    Why is he continuing this retoric line? Republicans will not be happy until we have waged war on everyone in the world. The war is in Iraq. Iraq was NOT RESPONISIBLE FOR THE TERROR ATTACKS AGAINST THE USA and not a significant threat to attack in the near future. If anything the war has promoted terrorism against the US. We need to DE-escalate the violent talk and help the Iraqi people to put their contry back together.

    February 7, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Anderson

    You are a gentleman, Mr. Romney. We Shall miss you on campaign trail.

    February 7, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Joel, Corona, CA

    And thus dies any semblense of Conservatism.
    Get your fuzzy hats with red stars on the front Comrades!

    February 7, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. ken

    this guy has never done anything for his country or his party. anyone who spends 35 million dollars of his own money to become president has only one motivation. EGO!!

    February 7, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. kevin from alaska

    He went out on a good note. Very calculated. He's banking on Obama steam-rolling McCain in the general election. Then he feels voters will be primed for him after Obama messes up the country with 4 years of his socialism. Mitt will claim he was the man then and he's even more your man now. He'll claim he already has the conservative base from this election and he'll deem himself the front runner.

    Mark my words, this is not the last we've seen of Mitt Romney. I'm keeping my eyes on you, Mitt.

    February 7, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain if president will do the same thing Bush did on day 1, go to war with Iran. That's McCain's focus point which will complete the decline of our economy. If you've never been married to someone who served in Vietnam talked to the family members of the soldiers that are serving and have served in Iraq or Afgan. Our government never addressed the problems of the Vietnam veterans just like they aren't addressing the problems of those serving in Iraq. With all respect to our military and their families, we deserve more answers from McCain than are being asked.

    February 7, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. John Burt

    Romney's exit was as graceless as his campaign. He's getting out to ensure victory against radical jihad? I hope I'm not the only person sick and tired of this "The Democrats are all traitors at heart" routine.

    February 7, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Scott H. Clark

    Sen. McCain will lead the Republican Party to defeat. A 72 year old man vs. Obama. He represents the dogma of the past and does not have much charm. His life story is admirable but like Guiliani, his story is looking back, not forward. I think that the nomination in '08 is not worth the cost and Gov. Romney knows it. As a lifelong Republican (never having missed an election and never having cast a ballot for a Democrat), I believe that there is no Republican candidate that I can support. While I am not allied with the Family Research Council, I agree with Jim Dobson and will not vote. If Huckabee is nominated as Vice President, I will vote for Hillary Clinton.

    February 7, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Tammy

    The very last line of this article is exactly what is wrong with politics in this country today. "I vote the party, not the person". As long as people continue to conduct their political lives in this manner, we will continue to get mediocre representation. If you simply vote the party line, they can put monkeys out there (and let's face it, they have in some cases) and it makes no difference. Our party system has torn this country apart and allowed some pretty paltry people to hold high office.

    February 7, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Jay

    Romney was the only candidate that actually had a clue how to help America's economic problems. If McCain wins he will be too focused on Iraq to even do anything to help out his own country. Once the Iraq conflict is over we will be stuck with a president who knows nothing about running the American economy. If it turns out to be a Clinton vs. McCain presidential race it is gonna be a sad election year. McCain's only hope would be to nominate Romney for VP so he could focus on helping America while McCain is playing war.

    February 7, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Brett

    Romney is too good for America. We deserve who we elect.

    February 7, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. debbie

    I really dislike Romney's scare tactics of "attacks" on America. Give me a break.

    February 7, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. independent 08

    Awwww... what's Rush going to do now? Like we don't know, he will probably reach for his prozac.

    I think it's all about money, Romney does not want to continue depleting his wealth on a wild goose chase of the presidency. It is clear to the sane (this excludes the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulture etc.) that America does not need another far right extremist after Bush, and that the only hope for the republicans against Barack or Hillary is a moderate. Now let's see Anne vote for Hillary, and she better do it in the primaries because she may not have the opportunity to do it in November at the rate things are going Hill and Bill.

    Only a faction of the republican party mainly the country club crowd will lose sleep over Mitts exit, I think the moderates and the social conservatives have won over the country club extremist.

    February 7, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Wow

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    That's scary.

    February 7, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. mr genius

    He beat me to it! I wanted to shock Romney supporters. With 10,000 amps. For several hours.

    February 7, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Eb

    Might as well vote for Barak or Clinton as for McCain!

    LOL

    So much for choice!

    Ron Paul for President!

    CNN: You are biased for not giving Ron Paul any air time!

    February 7, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. ME / USA

    nice to see that Mitt left on a positive note (see quotes below). These quotes are totally ridiculous but unfortunately not a surprise. The Republicans only message these days is "BE SCARED". Looks like they'll be running for President on "BE SCARED OF OBAMA/CLINTON". Just be scared. Fear, fear, fear! They are kind of right however. They know either Obama or Hillary will totally spank them in November and turn this country back around. I guess that is a reason to be scared if you're on the right wing fringe b/c it will totally make you irrelevant. Goodbye Mr Romney, though I fear we'll have to watch you pander for more votes again in 2012.

    "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.”

    February 7, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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