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. KMac

    What is wrong with Conservatives these days? Isn't it spiteful to say that even Clinton is better choice than McCain for Republicans?

    February 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. yoyo

    He probably backed out to become VP for McCain. Now theres a good combo. I really think they would do well.

    February 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. sophia nyc

    Now it's time for McCain and Huckabee to step down as well.

    February 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Eli

    Ahhhh Mitz, gee, I was hoping you would spend ALL of your millions!!!

    Truly, this is a great day for America!

    Buh Bye!

    February 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  5. Eric, Cincinnati OH

    How did he ever expect to win when the base of the republican party are a bunch of religious bigots?

    February 7, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. John, Euless, TX

    It's funny that I see people saying they will vote for Obama over McCain because is too liberal. WHAT!?!?!? Obama is the most liberal Democrat around. Look at his policies and positions instead of his bright smile. Come on folks.....you are smarter than that!

    February 7, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. David

    You know what's funny? Last I checked, Obama was the delegate leader in the Democratic party.

    But I'm all for Hillary doing the same for her party, if you can talk her into it.

    February 7, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  8. David

    I'm a Republican that just decided to vote for Obama. I just don't see a leader in McCain and he's practically the same as Obama except for the Iraq War.

    February 7, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. MG

    It is comments from people like those found here that keep the Republican Party alive; so many nasty hearted people.

    February 7, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. Neal

    How can anyone vote for Hillary or Obama when neither have any experience what so ever?! I am not a McCain person either but he at least is QUALIFIED to be president. I guess in the liberal eyes, qualifications mean nothing. Just color and gender.

    February 7, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. befmed

    How gracious of Romney to end his run "for the good of the country", but only after it has finally become obvious to even him that he stood no chance of winning.

    February 7, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. godlesspriest

    To vote the person, not the party, is simply naive. I don't care how wonderful a candidate is, if his team is losing he won't be helpful.

    February 7, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. Nick

    Mitt Romney is NOT the most conservative candidate in the race. That is absolutely, 100% false. Ron Paul is (according to his supporters, himself, and his own VOTING RECORD) the most conservative candidate not only in the presidential race, but also the most conservative member of congress. The writer of the article needs to revise the choice of words immediately or risk being labeled as a liar by many Americans.

    February 7, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  14. Sean Chong

    What's wrong with you all? Mitt wanted to run, you all don't like him. Now he quited, and then you all don't like him. Get real everyone! He's gentleman enough to step aside.

    February 7, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  15. Swede

    No the question is not Can Obama do the same for the sake of his party? But can Hillery do the same for the sake of the party.

    Go Obama

    February 7, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. William A

    Another Fear Mongering-- Conservative? Conservatism a bit misplaced I think.

    There is no relativity to Romney's statement. Why did 9/11 take place? Because Bush came to office. Well, in hindsight, there may be credibility to that premise.

    However, there is none to the theory we have to prolong the Iraq War to ensure there are no futher attacks. WAR BEGETS WAR. Hatred begets More Hatred. And Opression coupled with Brow Beating into Submission Begets Attacks and is synomous with the Bush Regime. And that's why the Iraq War it is still on going. And will continue to flourish under McCain's Leadership.

    February 7, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  17. Huck4prez08

    It's now inevitable that Mike Huckabee will win the nomination. If Romney would've done this earlier Huck would've had the clear advantage after Super Tuesday. But since there are few moderate states left and the conservative voters who voted for Romney will now vote for Huckabee Clearly gives the edge and momentum to mike.

    I like Mike 08

    February 7, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. Dowell

    You guys are funny...


    February 7, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. tami

    As proven by these stupid posts, CNN is full of a bunch of idiotic democrats. Good luck to you all and the future of our country. Go ahead and keep applauding the higher tax rate. Stupid.

    February 7, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. Veteran Will


    To spin his wasted millions in support of his campaign, his utter defeat by both McCain AND Huckabee, and abysmal failure to connect with the voters of the GOP to be about Obama and Clinton and their desire to end the war in Iraq is utterly ridiculous.

    He was talking several minutes before I knew what he was talking about. At the very minimum, I thought that Mitt would bow out with some bastion of integrity and decorum.

    This guy is a real work of art.

    February 7, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Teresa

    I weep for our Nation today! Mitt Romney is truly the man we need in our White House. Surely, every intelligent conservative can see that.

    February 7, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. Dave


    Mitt Romney a conservative? Please!! Have you seen his "position videos" on YouTube from just a few years ago? Unreal!!

    It's difficult to convince the conservative base that your an authentic conservative when you've only reached your political puberty at the age of 60!!

    February 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. G12

    If people don't vote for you, you're not a front runner.
    People didn't vote for Romney.
    Your people voted for McCain.
    Romney realized it was impossible for him to win.
    So, he cut and run. Not because of his love for America,
    but for the love of the remaining dollars in his checkbook and common sense.

    February 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. Michael Beusch, San Mateo, CA

    I am so sick and tired of the right wingers equating electing a Democrat with appeasing the terrorists! This coming from someone who supported and still supports attacking the wrong country. Here is yet more of this sickening divisive fear mongering from the GOP that has kept them in the White House for the past eight years. If this kind of rhetorical garbage isn't proof that the Republicans have to go in 2008, I don't know what is. Good riddance, Romney! Don't let the door hit you on the rear end on the way out!

    February 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. Bill, UT

    As a practicing Mormon, I want to emphasize that Romney's politics of fear, war, attack ads, and blind allegiance to party certainly do NOT represent all adherents to our faith. I am part of a group (perhaps small, but growing daily) who are ready to say, Go Obama!

    February 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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