WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney made the decision to end his presidential run Wednesday, as he wrote what turned into his valedictory speech, said campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom.
As Romney "put pen to paper" writing his speech for the opening day of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), it "evolved into a goodbye speech."Fehrnstrom said he had an idea the former Massachusetts governor's White House run was drawing to a close when Romney left the campaign headquarters Tuesday, saying he wanted what was best for the country.
Romney's senior staff was notified last night, and the rest of the staff was told the news right before Romney took the stage at CPAC on Thursday. Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, who introduced Romney, was told at the same time but didn't let on in her comments.
Romney had not spoken to Republican rivals John McCain or Mike Huckabee before his speech. His spokesman said he would talk to his former opponents - with whom he's clashed, often fiercely, throughout the primary season - "at some point."
Fehrnstrom said it's important that at this point the party come together, adding that the eventual nominee, who they presume will be McCain, will have Romney's support - though there's no talk of an endorsement timeline just yet.
–CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt