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. Nidia

    It is sad when the people don't recognize who is the best man with values, decency and morality. Only time will tell the reality but the consequences would be terrible as Romney says.

    February 7, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. s-tron

    What? Honorable? He should have quit well before super Tuesday with those excuses.

    February 7, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. madre

    all you haters of romney..pay close attention to McCains speech and see if you hate Romney after so much. Stop gripping over how much money he has made..guess what THEY all have money! Differance being here one knows how to make a great porfolio and the other..well let's just say we shall see how great economy becomes with the likes of Obama, Clinton, or McCain. Strong America? not likely we are loosing credability all over the world, and have been for a very long time (longer than Bush presiding) Wake up more of the same is coming our way.tug a wars..nothing being done.. no voice..and a slow slow economy.

    February 7, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Anthony Nelson

    It is good to have the most superficial of all presidential hopefuls out of the race. Romney's spiteful shot at the two Democratic candidates gives an excellent example of what a dirty campaign he would have conducted had the primary process not shown him for the phoney he is. The four major remaining contenders will provide better leadership for this country. Good riddance.

    February 7, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. Mark

    I am saddened by Mitt's departure from the race, but....

    We must keep in mind the following facts.

    The Clinton's are not qualified to lead the nation. Bill became unqualified the day he showed disrespect for Americans, women, the country, and the presidency. His presence near power would be a tragedy. The social engineering nightmare Hillary would bring in the name of change is unacceptable.

    The unknown Mr Obama is just a young and untesteted version of liberal agenda....just look at his backers.

    Although there is much to be modified in John McCain's platform, we must look at the bigger picture. Mitt, you have my respect.

    God Bless America

    February 7, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    I do not for one minute believe that Mitt stepped aside "for the good of the country." He has shown himself as a self serving individual who would have been another curse on this nation of hard working Americans. His dishonesty and vindictiveness came through in the waning throws of his campaign. Save all the drama about his concern for our national security. If he is so for the war on terror, he should offer up some of his boys to go fight it along with everybody else.

    Good riddance Mitt Romney...

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

    Mitt Romney gave the best speech that I have ever heard him give today up until he pulled out of the race. I watched all the debates and can tell you if he had started his campaign talking about the issues like he did today he would have been in first place.
    I am a Republican and I wanted to hear him on issues and not talking about McCain, which I didn't vote for in the primary.All of the people are sick of the infighting of both parties. Just look at Hillary she is proof that name calling isn't working this election. She let her husband ruin her campaign so far with name calling. (She needs to send Bill home) Obama has no experience and from watching him debate I see he has very few answers to the issues. Besides being a nice person with a nice family I just don't see where he has near enough experience to run a country. Lately honestly I find him alittle scary, we older people know no one person can turn this world into heaven on earth.
    He said the other night that he was going to fix this country and then the world, that's when I started to worry. Don't most of his supporters want to do away with our milatary and do what ever it takes to not fight to protect our country... I think I read about a man that lived years ago in Germany that had followers just like this.
    People be careful what you pray for because you just might get it...

    February 7, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. JM

    There is a god after all!!!! This megalomniac couldn't connect with ordinary Americans....nothing more, nothing less.

    February 7, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. Midge from Ohio

    It's a sad day...I will be voting Democratic this election. I will NEVER vote for McCain. I vote people, not party.

    February 7, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Mike Greenberg

    "John McCain [has] a shot at winning their support." It's not like it'll be hard for him to get their support when they "vote the party, not the person." Sheesh.

    February 7, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Hey Mitt:

    Every war is an expression of failure none more so than this one. Obama and Clinton are in favor of quick and RESPONSIBLE withdrawal from Iraq. That may mean that your stocks may take a beating as the Millitary/Industrial complex is still alive and well. TOUGH!

    February 7, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Romney puts party before country as well as the student mentioned at the end of the piece. There in lies the problem with the GOP

    February 7, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. JAY C

    Good riddance, now I could care less who wins the nomination, WITH THIS GUY OUT OF THE PICTURE AMERICA IS SAFE!!

    February 7, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. Zaac

    So will his supporters now support Huckabee? If we want any sort of conservative, Huckabee is now the man to back. If there is now a groundswell of support for Huckabee, he can still take this nomination back from McCain.

    February 7, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Renaisauce

    Absolutely ingenious. Romney, in stepping aside, has actually become the unifier of the Republican party. Not McCain. Plus, he pretty much dashed the hopes of Huckabee and forces McCain to pander to the conservative movement, all at the same time,. Mitt Romney IS the best candidate of the 2008 race, and he just proved it. Let's see if we can't get him back in four years, when McCain has to retire. I'm a Mitt supporter, and I will now support the Republican nominee, because that's what he's asked.

    February 7, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. independent for obama

    This is a sacrificial move on Romney's part for the destiny of his party. It's going to be very interesting to see if the conservatives who were so against McCain are going to buy this move by Romney. It would probably be in the best interests for the conservatives to back McCain, but will they do it? This was a very interesting move and its going to have a lot of buzz within the GOP.

    February 7, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. Joyce E. Neal, Nashville, TN

    Mr. Romney indicated that Clinton and Obama would surrender and accept defeat in the Iraq war. Well, Mr. Romney, the US is being defeated everyday that we spend American dollars and lose American lives on a war that cannot be won by American military. When is America going to realize that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with Terror in America. None of the 9/11 individuals were from Iraq. When is the media going to print that? When is McCain going to admit that? American dollars being spent in Iraq can be spent on healthcare for Americans, education for American children. So Mr. Romney your exit from this race cannot be because you don't want to be the one to ensure that America will not win in Iraq. Your current sitting President made that decision (America cannot win) when he made the decision to invade Iraq. I wish everyone running would admit the truth that Iraq is not about Terror in America.

    February 7, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. D

    Romney was too right-eous for the new era in Republicans' politics; so is Huckabeee when it is all done and said. America no longer is seeking the virutous President. Nicks, tucks, bruises and marks are no longer held against people seeking the higher position. The people seem to seek one of their own: a few scraps, a few brushes and a drink at the end of the crisis. Romney was too straight and people could not relate as was Edwards.
    Mc Cain wants to draw all people together – many in war and more wars.
    If I recall my history President Reagen sent people to bed thinking there would be a war the next day but to have changed his plans and did not send one peron to battle the next morning. And how many years and Presidents later were we attacked? I am still confused how we were looking for a man said to be in one country and we go to battle with a ruthless ruler who attempted to kill our current President's father.
    The Republicans need a seaunce to ask President Reagan what to do next since they seem to be trying desperately to shadow him!
    Personality- Huckabee comes closer in my thoughts.

    February 7, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. Ellie

    I see Romney still hasn't read the report from the CIA and Internal affairs as to the reason terrorists attack us. IT is because we are over there with our nose in their business.( Get the log out of your own eye before you try to get the speck out of someone elses. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ) Some wise guy said that a long time ago.

    February 7, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Realist

    GOOD RIDDANCE.

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

    “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.”

    Attention to all candidates:

    The politics of fear is over. Goodbye Mitt and anybody else who employs these disgustingly base tactics.

    February 7, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Joshua Steimle

    I was expecting him to announce Huckabee as his running mate, not this. I'm bummed on one hand, but on the other hand nobody even knew who Mitt was a year ago. Now they do, the Mormon thing has already been played out and is now old news, Mitt has four years to be consistent on his message and unite conservatives, and he's in a great spot to run in '12. Remember, Reagan lost the first time he ran for president too.

    February 7, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. DC

    I'm tired of the kind of mean-spirited attacks like this:

    “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.”

    I don't believe this is true. I don't believe Romney had any real ideas aboput making America safer, and I do believe this this kind of venomous devisiveness is as toxic to the nation as anything the terrorists can do.

    Good riddance to this man.

    February 7, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. please move to canada

    –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.”

    Thats the problem with you clowns. You vote the party and not the person. Your lemming-like behavior is an injustice to the spirit of the Constitution and the freedoms that make us great.

    February 7, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Jackie from Idaho

    I am truly sad, but figured this was coming sooner or later. It will be interesting to see who Mccain has as a VP! I think I will write Mitt's name in in Nov. unless McCain puts him in as VP! But am so sad! Hopefully Mitt will be now able to take a much earned long vacation!

    February 7, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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