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 vote the party and not the person, but unfortunately Senator McCain is not a republican.
Ah, Mitt Romney, one can't help but smile. The so-called johnny-come-lately "conservative," the flag waving Republican, who predicts that if Hillary or Obama are elected, we will be over-run by terrorists, "of this I have no doubt." It is for that reason I will NOT vote for a conservative.
This wasn't honorable, it was about losing money..
“I vote the party, not the person.” – Shouldn't it be the other way around? I guess as an Independent voter, I just don't understand blind partisanship. The right answer rarely comes from one viewpoint.
“I vote the party, not the person.”
That last line is everything you ever needed to know about what's wrong with all represenative systems of Government. George Washington was right about party polictics. As we head towards November, it ever more seems like we truely are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
As a Republican, I am happy that Mitt Romey is out.
And as a Republican, I will voting Demorat for the first time in over 30 years!
He suspended his compaign because he could not mathematically win not because of Hilary or Obama.His attempt at being a martyr on the altar of conservatism is very easy to see through.
Huckabee is still in and it just demonstrates you do not have to change your stripes or spend millions to get the vote, you will still stop short, and in 4 yrs, if he attempts again, he still would not succeed.
I'm not shocked, it just confirms his good judgment and intelligence and concern for the Republican party and what we stand for. What a difference between him and Huckabee! I'm heartbroken that we won't get him elected in 2008 ... but hopefully he will run again at next opportunity!!! God bless you, Mitt!
WOW!!! This primary season is sureal.
surrender to terrorism? admit defeat? what's Romney smoking?? glad to see him go - he never met an issue he couldn't flip on and has not an original idea in his head. and as for the guy who said he voted the party, not the person - grow up and learn to think for yourself! you sound like a totalitarian-state robot. oh wait - you're a Republican, so that is exactly what you are.
Good Riddance!!! Mitt was nothing but a shallow flip-flopping opportunist. A McCain / Clinton contest will be a real debate between moderates (as most of the country counts themselves), and the extremists of both parties will, at long last, be marginalized, as they should be.
WHAT A GREAT MAN! this day is a loss for our country. ... a true conservative. If McCain has any sense and humility in his soul he will offer the Vice Presidency to Mitt Romney....... our country needs him!! Hey CNN ... why didn't you run Laura Ingram's CPAC introduction speech of Romney? It was a fantastic introduction. When I saw you weren't going to televise it, I immediatly turned to FOX WHERE THEY DID and from now on I know where I can find full coverage!!
Making ludicrious comments similar to Bush's 06' remarks that a Democratic victory in November is equivilant to "the terrorists winning" is yet another reason people are tired of this guys act. No wonder this guy got roasted on Super Tuesday.
This country and BOTH parties are ready to put aside these kinds of false and useless jabs aside for sound stretegic thinking in the Iraq war that isn't just about party politics anymore.
He clearly isn't ready to do that, and it cost him.
Quitting so the wars can go on unabated.
One more war monger out of the way.
Go Clinton and Obama!
I will vote for whoever is on the ballot with a "D" by their name.
Mitt I may not agree with your politics, but I can't deny that you showed courage and that you are a true gentleman and patriot.
"I vote the party, not the person"
oh.... great. Well, all I can say is the U.S. lost one vote because I could care less who wins now. LiberalS will win and the U.S. will be attacked again. Just watch. McCain,BILL, and Obama all want our troops out. But who cares. 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 and they will shout" DEATH TO AMERICA"
Romney would of been a great leader. Those countries will hate America, even more, because they see a crude lady running the country and ordering men what to do. Well good luck.
POST IT, IT IS THE TRUTH...........
There IS a God!!! Guess Romney couldn't "take the heat" so decided to "get the Hell out of the kitchen"!!!! I Love It! More Republicans should drop out!!!! It would be a much better world!
Mitt Romney saw the same writing on the wall John Edwards did. But for him to go out saying the U.S. will experience another terrorist attack worse than anything under the Taliban is irresponsible and immoral. This is the Republican mantra "fear fear terror terror," and Americans aren't buying it any more. Or maybe they've figured out the way to prevent a terrorist attack on American soil is to actually have soldiers ON AMERICAN SOIL.
Mitt, that doesn't make sense. Dropping out now will help the Republicans? Staying in the race will help the Democrats? You are basically saying that you are a liability to the Republican party.
Hey Mitt, please don't use Iraq and the War on Terror in the same sentence. They are two separate things. To equate them dishonors the almost 4000 US soldiers who have died, along with tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, not to mention the trillions this war has cost. The Iraq War was built on a lie; Al Qaeda had no presence in Iraq before the US invaded.
And Mitt, politics of fear may be an strategy that has worked before for the Republicans, but not anymore.
Why the word "suspend". I hope there is a ground swell when the Republicans realiwe what they have done leaving McCain and Huckabee as the two contenders. I hope for a groud-swell that will put Romney on the ticket with or without the party nomination. Then the word suspend (carefully chosen by Romeny, to be sure) will have the new meaning I hope for.
Must really suck to be Ingram. I watched the whole thing on the tube, thinking all the time that I knew something she (and the rest of the poor saps in attendance didn't). HA!
Real nice, Mitten . You just tried to play Reagan and made the whole Republican party look like fools.
I'll be warming my hands over that great Big Tent that's quickly flaming out.
Chuch On The Move!
Looks to me like mr. Flip-Flop is cutting and running...
Great. Apparently the Republicans don't need a conservative to run anymore anyway. Now we get to decide if we want a super-liberal or a moderate-liberal from the two main parties.
Please – oh – please Ron Paul run as a third party candidate.
It would be nothing but Poetic Justice if Romney called Mike and stated: if you stay in, you can have my delegates at the convention. Image John's face if Mitt showed up at the convention and this were to occur. This would shock the Repub. party. It will surely give Mitt a chance to get back at McCain......I don't know if Huck would go along with the idea or not. I think he might b/c I for one am not buying his preacher man act.