Concord, New Hampshire (CNN) - Embattled New Hampshire GOP Chair Jack Kimball resigned his post Thursday, forestalling a planned vote by the party's executive committee that could have ended in his removal.
In an emotional speech, Kimball told the committee he would not continue to be an obstacle to the party's success.
"This party needs to be unified. It can't stand to have what is going on now," he said. "This isn't about me. It never has been.... All of us are Republicans in this room."
The resignation ended weeks of speculation and public sniping, as the entire Republican congressional delegation joined many state leaders in mobilizing to oust Kimball. The coalition of opponents believed the executive committee would reach the majority needed to fire the chairman Thursday night.
Kimball had been dogged by reports of party infighting and poor fundraising numbers since he took office earlier this year. As the ouster attempts gained steam, he had embarked on a vociferous defense of his leadership, saying the party establishment was not open to a tea party leader.
But his defiance turned to resignation Thursday. The chairman hugged supporters as he made his way to the hotel conference room the committee had chosen to accommodate the large audience.
Immediately after an opening prayer by one committee member, Kimball rose to speak. He told the assembled crowd, including a vocal group of tea party supporters, that during his tenure he had worked to unite tea party voters with party establishment.
But, he said, the planned vote on his tenure would tear the party apart.
"We have got to come together and defeat Barack Obama in 2012," he rallied the audience.
Early response from tea party Republicans showed the schism may not end with Kimball's resignation.
"I was very shocked. I was hoping that he would stay and fight," said Cindy Howard, founder of the Claremont Citizens for Lower Taxes, a state tea party group. "I think the establishment has to heed the warning that the party is headed in a more conservative direction."
The job of heading up New Hampshire's Republican Party is a high-profile position given the state's out-sized role in choosing presidential nominees. Vice chair Wayne MacDonald will take over on an interim basis.
Top Republicans Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, state Senate President Peter Bragdon and state House Speaker William O’Brien released a statement saying the party could now "move forward with unity."
- CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report.
And this my friends is the number one priority of Republicans, they care only about defeating President Obama, they don't care if the entire economy comes crashing down. They could care less about creating new jobs. They will obstruct in any way that they possibly can and, who suffers from this? The AMERICAN PEOPLE. All Tea Party members should be voted out in 2012
Jack Kimball resigned because he was being kicked to the curb by Republicans and he's not even Obama. I think that "we" doesn't include you Mr. Kimball, they know it but unfortunately he just doesn't get it.
The Party is already torn apart. This was never about Kimball. It was always about the Party being right-wing or far, far right-wing. It will not cease its downward spiral until it softens its extremist views. The Tea Party has nationwide negatives that have gone from 11% to 43% as the public continues to learn its true agenda. Until the Republican Party learns this, it will need to find more scapegoats, like Kimball, to blame.
Wow, I've never seen so much infighting in one party. If it's not between the GOP moderates and the Tea Party it's between the members of their own commitees and groups. They can't get along with themselves. It's no wonder they don't get along with anyone that disagrees with them.
Hopefully the first of MANY teabaggers forced out. The Republican Party doesn't need these nuts!
There's not a single conservative in the Tea Party; these are reactionaries. A conservative wants to conserve what we have while a reactionary is enthralled by some mythological past golden age and wants to go back to that.
Again putting party before country. You republicans are complete traitors and brown shirts.
Hey even the Repugs cannot tolerate the tea baggers and their lunatic ways. Can you imagine these folks running the country unabated. The whole thought of allowing corporations to run this country. We would be at the mercy of the stock market. If any one of those country in Asia or Europe go down, they'll take the stock market and our country down with it. These repugs are acting like were still living in the 70s and 80s when our borders were closed. We are dealing with a totally different beast. It's china, India and brazil exploding in growth. American companies are jockeying to get a piece of their pie, as they reject Americans workers. they commission the repugs to cover their base and make crazy excuses why they're making more money more than any time in history and still not hiring
Another good Republican, doesn't care about the country's success just that of his party.
Republicans at their BEST – infighting and moving so far right, their numbers will "dwindle" down to almost nothing!!
Every Republican is an obstacle – to the creation of jobs and the recovery of our economy. They all need to go so America can return to common sense, human decency, and compassion and caring about ALL Americans.
I am curious as to whether or not the Republican National Committee has assessed its membership and knows what percentage of its body politic is comprised of Tea Party affiliated members? If anyone knows, please respond. It is going to be fascinating to watch how the more centrist, more moderate, factions of the GOP deal with this new element. While Democrats historically breed, develop, use, and then subsume various alternate groups and viewpoints as matter of course with the ease – and ultimate containment – of a '70s lava lamp, the GOP's hallmark has always been staid cohesion. I wonder if party leaders really grasp the meaning of the light they see at the end of the tunnel.
good for Tea Party rich thugs....
Ugh – More right-wing trash. NH can keep them, they are not welcome in VT.