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. John, WA

    I hope we can all forsee the future it a small way; should Sen. McCain be elected to represent his party he will appeal to his more conservative bretheren by changing his message and perspective to appeal to their palates. Should that happen will the Straight Talk Express and the integrity of a strong man be compromised? If so, do we want a man such as that to be in Command? If Sen. McCain does retain his intergrity, in the face of unbelieveing conservatives, then perhaps he will do himself the greatest favor and perhaps overcome the odds of voters against him on the way to the white house. If he cannot generate enough numbers, he still will have retained his integrity which I believe is essential to an honest and great representitive.

    Obama for Change in 2008!

    February 7, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. Joe

    ROMNEY SUPPORTERS : your man fought hard but he felt like he couldn't win against the Dems.
    Please support Ron Paul, who is the only Republican who can beat the Dems.

    February 7, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Mikey

    Just wait a few days...he'll probably change his position and become an active candidate again. Oh, and since he is no longer a candidate, he'll now probably resign from the NRA.

    February 7, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. Mitt


    You would have made an inspiring and effective President. Best of luck to you and let's try again in four years.

    Signed disillusioned,

    Moderate Republican

    February 7, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Kejer - Republican

    Mitt, I am sad to see you go. You have convinced me that you changed your views (on abortion/stem cell research), for the right reasons. I am glad to know that there are those in the world that are just stuck to one ideal, but that can change, when they learn more about issues. You're open mindedness, and now your sacrifice of something that you want, for what you belive to be the greater good speaks highly of you.

    I hope to see you in this race again, in a couple of years. In the meantime, although I don't agree with everything that McCain has done in his past. I hope that he can convince me he is the best choice to:
    #1 – Get the Economy back on track
    #2 – Secure our boarders
    #3 – Push forward in Iraq and finish the job well, so that we can bring our men/women home soon. (I know that he feels like we need to finish the job and make sure that the country isn't left to ruin and doesn't sprout even more extremists with means to cause more terror – and I agree with him there).
    #4 – Make our presence strong wherever there are those that would threaten the lives of Americans or our Allys and friends across the world.

    The alternative to McCain, is just too unbareable to think about =
    Clinton – YIKES!!!
    Obama – Good man, don't agree with MOST of his stances on these major issues.

    February 7, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Wendi

    It is really too bad that people have to bring religion into this. Just to inform one of the people who commented the Mormon Church already has a prophet to replace Gordan B. Hinckley. That is Thomas S. Monson and that announcement was made on Monday. This shows me how uninformed people are.

    February 7, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Melissa you're wrong. When a republican candidate suspends their campaign the states decide where to allocate their delegates. The candidate does not retain them.

    The democrats retain their delegates. The republicans do not.

    February 7, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Tim

    I am a liberal and must say that Romney ran a great campaign. I may not have ever voted for him but at least I was open minded enough to at least listen to his positions.

    February 7, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Steve Nesich

    What a loser. Using "the war" as his reason for dropping out. Romney is such a phony. Why didn't he admit what is true: Despite spending a lot of his own money and changing his position to fit the perceived opinions of the Republican primary voters, he got his butt kicked and his strategy didn't work.

    But no. Instead he wraps himself in "the war" and tries to make it appear that he is quitting the race because of his high-minded concerns about the safety of this country. How pathetic, transparent and mendacious. This is a man who treats the voters as if they were six years old.

    February 7, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. fmf

    The term "True Republican" gets me every time. Does anyone know what that is anymore? There are so many people to hate and so little time. So much fear to sow and so little time. The platform isn't built on how to proceed forward, but on how to point fingers, instead of coming up with a solution that includes all of America. Romney's speech is proof of that. The party's intolerance is what will continue to keep the party down. That's the thing with intolerance, it doesn't have boundaries. You get so wound up trying to make everyone like yourself that it become self-destructive when any other opinion is shared. The Democratic party doesn't have these forces tearing it apart from the inside. They are content with their diversity. They are focused and that's why they have two viable candidates. If Clinton and Obama joined forces, does anyone seriously think a Republican could beat them? Of course, individual ego would prevent them from running as a team. Do you think Obama wants VP at this point? No way. Nor would Clinton want to offer it. But if they could come to an agreement, it would solidify that party beyond belief.

    February 7, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Robert

    "I vote the party, not the person"....

    Do you understand what he meant? He is choosing the better of the whole over what he might personally want. He is choosing benefiting the party over benefiting himself. We just saw a selfless politician step down, because his priority is this nation. I wish more people would think about how what they do is affecting the country. We might actually begin to be better off.

    February 7, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Mark

    About time their Mitt! Now you won't need as much hairspray.


    February 7, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. LM

    Applauds Annie and Alice! Great comments, ladies. Agreed.

    February 7, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. mark loucks

    Maybe Romney realized that the American people were beginning to see how he really was...a socially liberal governor from a liberal state who decided he could make people think he was a social conservative. I can not believe that so many drank the kool-aid and supported him that way. I was more annoyed that he was in there due to the fact he could not be who he really is. There is nothing wrong with being a liberal, unless you want to run for President on the GOP ticket. Then it is not allowed. At least according to Conservatives.

    Even the right wing does not like a turncoat. His campaign will not be missed.

    February 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. Good Riddance!

    He dropped out for the sake of his "wallet" more than his party – the venture capitalist knows when to cut his losses.

    I think the conservative commentators are ironically doing much more to get Hillary or Barrack elected as president than any of their supporters have.

    I'm an independent and am glad he's gone – his stupid speech shows that he would have been another PR disaster for the country. Of course that's not what conservatives believe because "FoxNews" did not say so.

    In case you haven't realized, McCain would have a better chance of facing either of the Democrat candidates than Roney ever did.

    February 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I'm glad that Mitt decided to go out in style, without bitter remarks and all. No if only Huckabee can realize he doesn't stand a chance.

    February 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. riley4romney

    You guys sound like a bunch of idiots. Whether McCain, Hillary or Obama are the next ones to make things worse doesn't really matter. Is it really viable or courageous to keep going when the REALITY is that we DO have a TWO party system? He wouldn't be able to get the nomination so he should keep fighting and lessen the chance for the party to have ANY chance to have some representation in Washington? This criticism is ridiculous. It would be awesome if this year would spark a TRUE change to the two-party politics in this country, but given what we have, Romney going with the party is the admiral way to go– not the other way around.

    Romney would be criticized whether he got out or stayed in. He is smart enough to look at the whole picture and do what is best for everyone. He truly WAS the best conservative candidate and best to fix this country but the STUPID voters who don't dig any deeper than the soundbites let him go!

    February 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Karen

    I like to stick to facts and not get personal but in this case-–what an IDIOT!!!Good riddance to ya, can't even say it's been fun!

    February 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    I'm glad that Mitt decided to go out in style, without bitter remarks and all. No if only Huckabee can realize he doesn't stand a chance.

    February 7, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    I'm glad Mitt went out in style without bitter remarks and all. Now if only the Huckabee figures out that he can't win and drops out. We need to unite if we wanna beat the Democrats in November.

    February 7, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. Danny

    To Mark in Ontario, don't talk about dishonoring those who have served and died in Iraq, unless you have served this country yourself.

    As a Marine, I am still unsure of how I will vote, but I'm certain of one thing.. I'm sick of those who know nothing, pretending to know everything. The 'war on terror' is not just the war on one specific terrorist group.. thats what some liberal idiots seem to forget.

    We haven't been attacked since 2001.. coincidence? Believe whatever you want to believe.

    February 7, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Alireza

    I hope that everyone could find out that the best answer for the world`s problems is Sen.Clinton. We pray for her in Middle East. Sorry! but Obama is like Ahmadijejad in Iran. His Motto : We can is exactly like Ahmadinejad`s. He used to say : "we can" too. Hillary for 08.

    February 7, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Russell

    Will miss you in the race, Mitt. While I didn't agree with all your positions - I admire your experience and I truly feel you would have made a difference to our nation had you been elected President. Good luck John McCain - despite the naysayers - you are truly a conservative who knows how and when to compromise to get things done for the good of the country.

    February 7, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. EthanB

    Mitt finally shows his true colors.
    He find he couldn't buy power so he's quitting the game and going home.
    A man who stood for nothing in particular finds that the voters got wise to him.
    Even those who don't like McCain or Huckabee know what those two actually believe.
    Romney is a man of no principles, no core beliefs, only a belief in buying power and control.
    Goodbye and good riddance!

    February 7, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Dan in Missouri


    Check your own religious bias at the door. Raising $250M in fees from paying companies is not a tax. I don't know what the huckster has sold you and the south on, but it is not reality. If conservative means a specific evangical club of religions, then Huck can have them and their 1/3 of the south. I'm a mormon, who works for a catholic organization. Good christians are good christians. They don't belittle or call satan the people that worship christ differently. The South seems to have exchanged it bigotry of race for the religious kind.

    I hope that is not true, but it doesn't look great with Huckster for a mouthpiece.

    February 7, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22