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. Christiaan, Norman, OK

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    THAT is exactly what's wrong with politics in this country.

    February 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Here In Britain

    Looks like they are getting ready to play the Obama is an appeaser card.

    February 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Anony

    Now, is Huckabee next? McCain – Huckabee 2008 ?

    I bet he announces it within a week.

    February 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. FELISA

    OH HAPPY DAY. GREAT INVESTMENT MITT. 35 MILLION AND NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT. GOOD JOB!

    February 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. S

    Well, I won't vote for McCain or Huckabee for anything. If Mitt is going to drop out, my vote goes to Obama. We don't need another 4 years of any more Bush politics and having McCain is doing just that. Even Clinton is better than McCain or Huckabee. At least Obama and Clinton care about the small people who make up our great country.

    February 7, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Mitt Romney was the only Right Man for the position of President of this country. How saddened we are to see that McCain and Huckabee will have the spoils. Wish that Romney would stay in and ride it out...stop spending money and coast. He would have seen a complete turnaround in the Texas Primary. McCain and Huckabee are not right or qualified for President. Ron Paul is more qualified. At least he knows the Constitution. It's a bad day for the U.S. when the very BEST Candidate has to leave the race because of predicted numbers and the Media. If the Media hadn't tried to chose the candidate, this would never have happened. The Media Ignored Romney. Everyone declares that the Economy is the most important item and yet, they chose McCain or Huckabee........neither of whom know anything or have the right education and background for President. Romney's withdrawal is a Greater Loss than America realizes at this time. If McCain were smart and not a smart-alec and so disdainful and arrogant, he would chose Romney for his Veep.....IF McCain gets that far. The GOP should MAKE McCain chose him, because Romney is a man of integrity and character. He's serious minded, loves this country, and doesn't try to 'entertain' like clown Huckabee.

    February 7, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. Reed McGowan

    This quote from Mitt Romney's resignation speech...."We cannot allow the next President of The Untied States to retreat in the face of evil extremism"....

    I agree....."We (meaning THE AMERICAN PEOPLE) cannot allow the next President of The Untied States (Hillary Clinton) to retreat in the face of evil extremism (meaning THE REPUBLICAN PARTY)"....

    Thanks for your endorsement, Mitt.

    February 7, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Southerner

    Suspend means that Romeny can still collect donations, to pay himself back some of the $35 million he loaned his campaign.

    February 7, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  9. David

    Thank you Mitt! Now with this clown off the stage we will have a chance to see the only real conservative win this race: Ron Paul.

    February 7, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Moe, NY

    The Democrats will win the White House due in part to fear mongering Republicans and, of course, the GOP corruption and lies that Americans have put up with for almost 8 years now, not to mention the state of the economy. In my opinion, Iraq is a no win situation and I believe most Americans know that by now. America cannot afford to take a chance on another fear mongering Republican this time around. The Republicans/GOP have just about brought this country to its knees.

    February 7, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. Jason Reddish

    Translation: I didn't hold on to this much money by throwing good money after bad. It's either McCain or Huckabee, and I'm not opening my wallet any longer.

    February 7, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Sal in Phoenix

    Is there a reason for Huckabee to remain in the race other than he wants to hear his name spoken in the news..I think he'll be "suspending" his campaign now since the real reason he stayed in it was to block Mitt Romley..I think Republican politics are the dirtiest.

    February 7, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. Max Denver, CO

    Mark – a Canadian that knows more about things than many Americans... I couldn't agree with you more.

    See ya, Mitt.

    February 7, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. Mickie

    Romney said "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.”

    Oh PLEASE! Attacks on America because we pull our troops out of Iraq? What a disingenuous statement! You don't REALLY believe that! Politics of fear as usual. Good riddance to you!

    February 7, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. brett

    he only 'suspended' the race so he can continue to accept donations to pay himself back for the money he loaned his campaign.

    if he had ended it he wouldnt be able to continue to accept funds.

    February 7, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Brian - Ohio

    After millions of $$$$ of his own pocket spent in this race.... I am sad because he would have been an easy candidate to defeat in November...

    February 7, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Milena

    I am a conservative republican – but if my choice is McCain or Hillary – I will take Hillary any day.

    February 7, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. David

    Come on...the intentions of the GOP are always so clearly obvious. I guarantee Romney was promised the Vice-Presidential position on McCain's ticket. Watch for it. McCain-Romney still will not beat the Dems.

    February 7, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Adam

    The last line of this article, "I vote the party, not the person" sums up everything that is wrong with the American political system as it is currently constructed. It makes me sick. Our founding fathers would revolt at a statement like that.

    February 7, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Sean

    “in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.” ???
    What a irrational statement this is!.

    February 7, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. Re

    His supporters were surprised?! Do they live in a third world country or something? Where were they when the results of Super Tuesday were announced. Come on people!

    February 7, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. Sean

    “in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.” ???
    What an irrational statement this is!.

    February 7, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Levi Patterson

    What an honorable thing to do. I can't wait to vote for him when his campaign is no longer "suspended."
    And Mark don't be ignorant. Saddam killed 150 people per day on his 18 year campaign. If that's not terrorism I don't know what is. You're proof to the statement," If democrats were any smarter, they would be republicans."

    February 7, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    “Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat,”

    As opposed to what? Staying forever and still being defeated?

    February 7, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. Dr.Jimmy/NYC

    Hey Mitt.....War on terror..???
    As a New Yorker please tell me...Where is Osama? Why are the Taliban still in power? You republicans and your war on terror......"YOU HAVE FAILED" I can see ground zero from my office....and Osama and the Taliban can see it on the web. 7 years with a Republican president who has failed to destroy the people who attacked my home town. You...Mr. Mitt and your party have failed!!!!!!!

    February 7, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22