February 7th, 2008
02:37 PM ET
15 years ago

Romney quits race, shocks supporters at CPAC

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/02/07/romney.campaign/art.mitt.romney.20.ap.jpg caption=" 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. Slicer

    He's just "suspending" it because he hopes McCain will croak before the nomination.

    Mitt: "He's 72 years old, maybe if he goes under I'll still have a chance"...

    Yeah, he's that much of a vulture.

    February 7, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Joseph

    "I vote the party, not the person."

    This is what is wrong with a two-party system. I can't think of a more asinine way of deciding who wins your vote.

    Independent and proud of it!

    February 7, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  3. Jack

    Willard you really should have stuck to the business world because you don't understand what is happening in the real world. Iraq was an enemy of the terrorists before George Bush toppled the government there.

    The Afghanistan war is in trouble because George Bush tied down our troops in a civil war in Iraq. The GOP is only after "oil profits" and have totally mismanaged the "War on Terror".

    This type of argument mixing facts and fantasy is why the Democratic Party is going to win in November. The Republican party has been in control too long, It's time for a change!

    February 7, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. rabblerouser

    Now that McCain is the likely republican candidate, the only one to defeat him is Hillary. If Obama gets the Democ. nod, then McCain will win hands down. Republicans know this, that's why they desperately want Obama to win. Wonder if the Democrats are dumb enough to fall for this...

    February 7, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Diana

    I don't buy that lame excuse of his– that whole Democrats-will-allow-terror-to-reign-supreme-by-pulling-out-troops. that's bull! It's gotta be a money issue. Hillary....you're going to need more than 5 M to make it. You and Obama gotta get together on this to keep McCain out! We can't let that happen.

    February 7, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. Brian

    Glad that Romney was able to remind every what's really important. That voting for anyone but the Republicans means terrorists will come to your homes and punch you in the face. Don't you love politics?

    February 7, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. Ready to Vote

    The republican brainwash on the war of terror is getting tiring. If anything we dug the hole for ourselves in Iraq. I agree with Mark above that the war in Iraq was built on a lie and the previous presidency win was built on a fear campaign. Barak and Hillary will actually focus the war on to the real source of terror – Osama Bin Laden.

    One Republican down.. 2 to go..

    February 7, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. PeeWee

    Good riddance to this evil clown. Now get rid of everyone else who fell for that communist one-party system proposed by the Newt back in the day. Quit implying that the other party are traitors, and let's either get America back to work or disband it into independent states. Heh, THIS was your New Reagan?

    February 7, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. andrew k

    this is great news..

    mitt couldn't buy the presidency.

    here comes huckabee. i actually think mccain could crumble with the conservatives pulling for huckabee

    February 7, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. seaofwhite

    what a loser

    in the race!
    might be out of the race...
    NO, We're in the race!
    ok, we're out of the race.

    'flip-flop, flip-flop'
    What's that sound? Oh, its just Mittens!

    February 7, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. Jen

    Bushie Smalls February 7, 2008 1:45 pm ET

    Mitt, the post for Mormon church president is still vacant. You can be the next prophet.


    AM MN February 7, 2008 1:47 pm ET

    HA! Good, go back to your crazy Mormon family & church…Buh-Bye creepy guy

    This country was based on religious freedom. You two are the real CREEPS. It is sick to me that you would belittle the prophet of this religion and its members. Christian you are not.

    February 7, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. Rick Sutter

    Mark from Toronto, I don't recall anyone asking the opinion of anyone from Canada. Your problems are much more serious than ours. I am a Nationalist and proud of it. Borders, language, culture. McClinton is not good for our country (but still not as disastrous as Hillobama). And Baseline Punk, you are obviously not a Republican so your opinion hardly counts. The vindictive side of me truly hopes that, after I am long gone, the liberals get what they wanted–pure social communism. Most rewarding in that scenario would be to see the looks on the faces of the Barbra Streisand and Susan Sarandon successors when the government restributes THEIR wealth. Can't have them earn more than the national average, after all. But alas, the nation won't survive long enough to see that. Islamic fascists will have taken us over from within by bribing our political and industrial leaders to trade away our country in exchange for short-term profit and power.

    February 7, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Amy

    Good Riddance to another war monger and practitioner of the Politics of Fear. Thank God we are almost done with the republican reign of terror!!!

    February 7, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Valerie

    "The suggestion that a Democratic administration would somehow enable terrorists is proof enough that this moron (Romney) does not belong in the White House."


    February 7, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    "So now are choices are McCain or Huckabee?"

    or Ron Paul. Educate yourself and do a service for your country.

    February 7, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. RWM

    Romney wanted to go out with at least some respect and seriousness which he might not have gotten later.

    My question is now that McCain pretty much has the nomination, will he be able to unite the party in time including the large conservative base?

    February 7, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. Adam from Ohio

    Wow, is this guy full of himself. He's STEPPING ASIDE to HELP AMERICA. As though HE HIMSELF has the power to HELP or HARM America, just by virtue of whether he shovels millions of his own dollars into a race he's bound to lose, anyway. Whatevah, Mittens!

    February 7, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Georgia

    Take your marbles, um, millions and go home.

    And yes, the Republicans do look like fools, but then again, they haven't looked so smart for the last eight years either...

    February 7, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Scott

    Christian writes...

    The war must end, and the Democrats will make it happen.<<<

    Didn't they say that two years ago? The truth is neither Obama or Hillary will end anything despite their claim to the contrary and both of them know it. But it's the popular thing to say so they'll say it. Both of them say we need a military presence in Iraq to protect our interests...well what do you think that means? It means we're not going anywhere. BTW...when they refer to "change" and then in the next breath say things like "shared financial responsibility" it becomes clear to me that the "change" they are talking about is what will be left in our bank accounts after they tax us to death.

    February 7, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. We are not as divided...

    ...As our politics suggest!

    Is it just me, or did Romney seem like a crazy Ken-doll to anyone else? He's always come off as plastic-very fake-whenever I have seen him speak and if he had won the election, I'd have had to seriously consider moving to Canada!!

    Obama '08!

    February 7, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. Michael Ullrich

    Ive voted for Ron Paul and will continue to. I wish you all would wake up listen to Dr. Paul and then you would see he is fighting for you. He has been saying the same things since he has been in congress. Please just listen to the man he is your voice. The first time I heard him speak I could not believe my ears its the same thing ive been thinking my whole life. I will vote for Ron Paul because he is fighting for our freedom he is a true Patriot.

    February 7, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. Fernando in ATL

    He is clearly the most qualified candidate, I am surprised he made this decision....

    February 7, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. Bill

    Levi ......There are many,many bad leaders in this world who have killed their citizens, from Africa to Cambodia and we didn't intervene.So are we guilty for not invading those countries? Perhaps we are.....

    February 7, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Sean, NC

    I really thought Huckabee would have "suspended" his run before Romney, but I figured both would have quit before the end of February. Hopefully, Romney will throw some delegates to the only man who actually has DIFFERENT views than McCain, Ron Paul. Plus, he needs them Romney.

    Ron Paul 2008!!!

    February 7, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Peter

    "...about this, I have no doubt"??? Well, Mitt, I have no doubt that you were simply a fear-mongering, flip-flopping, out-of-touch-with-reality candidate relying on the nod-your-heads-at-anything-I-say lemmings for support.

    "surrender to terror"? Your supporters must have surrendered their brains to believe some of the nonsensible, easily falsifiable drivel coming out of your mouth.

    With time on your hands, maybe you and your boys can REALLY do something to fight the war on terror. ENLIST! (Fat chance)

    February 7, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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