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. kayinseattle

    This year's presidential campaign continues to astonish me. I figured Huckabee would leave the race before Romney. I guess it's a good thing I'm not a pundit! Of course, I'm still thinking that McCain will get the nomination, and he will choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate. So, what do I know?

    February 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Damian

    """oh…. great. Well, all I can say is the U.S. lost one vote because I could care less who wins now. LiberalS will win and the U.S. will be attacked again. Just watch. McCain,BILL, and Obama all want our troops out. But who cares. Vote Hillary, most Middle East Countries treat women like dogs, just wait and see how they treat this country. The will have no mercy on the U.S. when Hillary is our leader. They will laugh while she tears up and they will shout" DEATH TO AMERICA"
    Romney would of been a great leader. Those countries will hate America, even more, because they see a crude lady running the country and ordering men what to do. Well good luck."""""


    I'm not a Clinton supporter and i think your comment suggest that you belong in a circus, you clown! Do us all AMERICANS a favor and go put you head in a hole somewhere!


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

    was just getting to know you, Mitt Romney, and I was coming to appreciate your intelligence and capabilities for being the person that could economically change our country. I am so sorry and sad that you are leaving the race. There are just too many people not paying attention to the candidates at this time and who haven't made an informed decision yet.

    February 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. MaryM

    Mitt Romney not only showed outstanding leadership, but also great courage in putting his country and the war on terror ahead of all other considerations. If John McCain cares as much about his country as Mitt Romney does, he will make his peace with Romney, perhaps by apologizing for some of the totally inaccurate accusations he made about Mitt Romney's statements about Iraq. .

    February 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. Judi

    I was just getting to know you, Mitt Romney, and I was coming to appreciate your intelligence and capabilities for being the person that could economically change our country. I am so sorry and sad that you are leaving the race. There are just too many people not paying attention to the candidates at this time and who haven't made an informed decision yet.

    February 7, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Raymond, El Paso TX

    Levi Patterson ~ I'm a Democrat so please, go ahead and waste your vote on Romney.

    However, you say we should be in Iraq because Iraqis died under Saddam? What about all the AMERICANS that died on 9-11 and the fact that the one responsible is still thumbing his nose at us?

    You and all the holier-than-thou Republicans like you are the reason an idiot is still in the WH and why we're in the mess we're in. Thank God most Americans won't be fooled again.

    February 7, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. LINDA K. IA.

    Well I am surprised! I am a Democrat, but, if my choice of candidate didn't make it I would have voted for Romney. I'm just not a fan of Mc Cain and never was, he is not my choice. Romney would have made a very good looking President. So now that he has bowed out, come on Hucklebee!
    And it is sad that politics has become so much about money and who endorses who. I wish this process could be changed. I don't like it because some states have caucuses and some states have primiaries. Why can't it all be done the same? Why can't it be done the same day? Why not put a cap on how much each candidate can spend? They are trying to buy their way in it seems.

    February 7, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. KG

    Great....now we have the Democratic Republican McCain and the Religious schmuck Huckabee. There goes any chance a Republican will make into office. Romney was the best canidate out of the group and I am sad to see him leave the race.

    February 7, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. KG

    "Don't go anywhere Mr. Romney; American Needs You more than ever! It is sad: The price tag for President of the United States has gone up so high; based on the created image; standard bell curve of Publicity: Rather than Integrity and Platform to get elected. "

    Well said Contentbelle...well said!

    February 7, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. Dave

    “I vote the party, not the person.” Yet another pearl of wisdom from yet another clueless republican. I wonder what you were like before your brain turned to mush from listening to rush?

    February 7, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Penny

    Wow, one great old time for the people-bashers for the sake of bashing!
    What will they say when Hillary or Obama will have to make a concession speech some day.
    It was a great speech Romney made. You get to know what he stands for better than from any of the debates. For his love of the country, and his hope in its people, It feels good to be an American.

    February 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. Jon

    "Quitting so the wars can go on unabated.

    One more war monger out of the way.

    Go Clinton and Obama!

    I will vote for whoever is on the ballot with a "D" by their name."

    Hey, here's another person who votes for a party and not the individual!! Where are all of the USSR, NAZI, and "That's what's wrong with this country" comments? Oh, I forgot, this one's voting for a Democrat so I guess it's ok now.

    February 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. A2MANI

    I Think Reverend Huckabee Should Prepare his Speech as Well.

    It's sooo Obvious.

    .. OBAMA '08

    .. OBAMA '08

    .. OBAMA '08

    .. OBAMA '08

    February 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Michael

    I really don't care whether Romney quits or not, but after watching his speech, one thing really bothers me. How dare a man (or woman) who can spend 35 million dollars of their own money, have the nerve to talk about dependence on our government for help. Boy, I wish I had 35 million dollars to throw away. Romney and Bush, and most of our rich politicans who have great health care (funded by the government, of course) don't have a clue what it is like to struggle every day, living from paycheck to paycheck, while our government throws away our money in a war that will never end. Perhaps, if we had that money, our roads and bridges. and country would not be crumbling. Romney is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

    February 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Brad

    I am a Libertarian. I have no love for either of the two parties that have made the idea of independent thought seem radical to the vast majority Americans. Too many are happy to parrot the sound bites and forgo the arduous task of forming an objective, fact based opinion of their own. An honorable man who served his country valiantly is being besmirched by people with less than honorable records of their own. At least his decisions will be based on experience in battle. Who else among the candidates could have said that. I have a feeling most of the hawks we hear are in fact chicken hawks who don't know how it feels to have a gun against your head. I do. McCain does. I will vote Libertarian until I die or the reincarnation of Goldwater, whichever comes first. Voting my conscience makes a soft pillow. However, I will not participate in the denigration of John McCain, and I have no respect for those who do.

    February 7, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Linda

    The Gop sell out........ wow how interesting is that now we have the election all FIXED up .

    RON PAUL 2008 Ron Paul.com ......... check him out if you want a future free of sale out politicians

    February 7, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Drew

    Romney supporter: "But ultimately “I vote the party, not the person.”

    And herein is the low-level thinking that has sustained the Republican party while damaging the country. Party first, country second.

    February 7, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. Nick Moore

    I vote the party, not the person? Way to be an independent thinker and make an informed decision.

    February 7, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. Woz - Los Gatos, CA

    Hey, he was spending a lot of his own money on this – can you blame him?

    At least he didn't try the "loan" nonesense somebody else did...

    Hillary – take a cue from Mitt – quit now!

    February 7, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. Steve O

    I am a Ron Paul supporter but I have to honestly say I liked Romney compared to McCain & Huckabee, who are Republicans by name only. I am fearful that one these 2 will get the nomination and destroy the GOP as we know it. I would urge all Romney supports to look into and hopefully support Dr. Paul. He is actually the most conservative candidate of all and the man most fit to lead this once great nation. Lets band together for Ron Paul and save us all from a Clinton/McCain November!!!!

    Paul 08

    February 7, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. Angela

    "I vote the party, not the person" is everything that is wrong with politics in this country! Unintelligent, uninformed, sheep-like voters who place a vote simply because someone has an "R" or a "D" behind his or her name makes me sick. I'd rather they not vote at all. To think that it is likely that the person who said that will vote for McCain, not because he thinks his ideas and ideals are optimal for being president, but because the Republican National Committe said to do so, is mind boggling. Doesn't anyone think for themselves anymore? Political parties are robbing this nation of true greatness. No one wants to stand up and say I'll vote for this person not because he is a Republican or she is a Democrat but because I believe in what he or she is saying and I believe he or she can truly put America back on the track to being a world power and a nation other nations look up to. This is why when you listen to the ridiculous "debates" on television, the candidates just argue back and forth without actually telling the American people what they are about and what they stand for. I know more from McCain about Romney's flip flopping than I do about McCain's plan for our economy. I know more about Clinton's quote about Regan from Obama than I do about Obama's plan for ending the war in Iraq. Personally, I wish they'd all drop out of the race and we could start from scratch with non-career politicians who aren't controlled by lobbyists running their campaigns and big money donors. That would truly be refreshing.

    February 7, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. concerned in alabama

    I love American and only want what is best for us. Who knows what that is? I wish that all Amicans could come together as one nation, not split between the Dem and Repubs. Most of the comments on this site are insane. Good luck to you Mitt.

    February 7, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. McCain

    R.I.P sucker.

    February 7, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. doug marcus sewell, nj

    the romey you diehards love so much ran away from those values in his losing capaign v ted – no loss

    February 7, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. EFritz

    I am glad Romney stepped aside, because he was trying to be President for the wrong reasons. For Power and the money he has become accostomed to. Whoever asked him to step back, good for them. But MCCain is not the leader this country needs either. I think maybe we should vote for someone who does not spout Retoric. Also has everyone forgotten both parties got us into Iraq, Both parties have brought us to the edge of economic disaster and both parties have done nothing but trampled on the constitution and our bill of rights as it pleases them and their many, many lobbies. Please investigate your candidate, Read over their voting record read old news on them. Please make an educated choice before you, I mean you, each individual out there, destroys this country from stupidity. This is not a beauty contest, it is not the winner of Americna Idol, this is the person who will decide the fate of our Country, they will conduct foreign policy and veto laws. THINK before you VOTE

    February 7, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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