(CNN) – Chased by reporters for a comment on the news that Rick Perry has dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney offered only a few words of praise for the Texas Governor.
"Governor Perry. Terrific guy. Terrific conservative. Been a great governor. Been great in the race. We're gonna miss him on the stage," Romney said referring to tonight's CNN Debate in Charleston.
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Romney appeared determined to avoid making any remarks on the day's other major development, that he did not win the Iowa caucuses after all.
Iowa GOP officials announced Thursday Rick Santorum had a 34 vote lead in the contest after there certification was completed. But they note that several precincts were unable to be certified making the full actual results unlikely to ever be known.
At an event just outside his campaign headquarters in Charleston, Romney was asked repeatedly by reporters for his take on the Iowa results. The former Massachusetts governor blew past the press and left the event without making any remarks on the caucuses.
Early this morning, the Romney campaign released a statement declaring the caucuses a "virtual tie." A few hours later, the Santorum campaign issued its own press release with the headline: "Santorum wins Iowa."
In his remarks to the small crowd gathered outside his Charleston office, Romney made no mention of either Perry's departure nor the Iowa results.
Instead he focused his attention on President Obama and his main rival in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich.
Romney poked fun at the President's event at Walt Disney World today. "He's going to be in Fantasyland and it's obviously appropriate because he's been living in a sort of Fantasyland these last few years," Romney said.
He then directed a jab at Gingrich, saying the President "may bump into Speaker Gingrich down there in Fantasyland." Romney said Gingrich's claim that he created jobs while in Congress shows he fails to understand how the economy works.
Technically the president is speaking in the Main Street USA area of the park, not Fantasyland.
"I know how jobs come. They don't come because of Washington. They come in some cases in spite of Washington," Romney said.
Romney was joined on stage with three of his top surrogates, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
In a lighter moment at the event, Romney led the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday for Haley who turns 40 today.
Later on, a protester interrupted Romney's remarks, asking him when he would release his tax returns.
"April," Romney answered.