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. Nancy Phx. AZ

    Mitt did this to unite the GOP. He was never in this for himself. He ran because he sincerely wanted to serve his country. He loves America, he wants America to be strong for generations to come. He gets to keep his delegates , his delegates stay his to give to whom he thinks is best to put forth the true principles of the Republican party. That is what a suspension means. Listen carefully to what this means, He is not dropping out it ,is a suspension. There is a difference. We have not heard the last of Mitt Romney. He is an outstanding American

    February 7, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Eva Bennett

    Here we go again! Just because we don't believe as you believe, we're going to cause attacks on the US. You have got to be kidding. This is the nonsense that the news media was flooding us with when GWB invaded in the first place and ended by making us more unsafe. Does anyone believe this nonsense anymore? Doesn't Hillary impress you as being incredibly capable of making the US a strong leader in the UNION of nations again?

    February 7, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. archie h.

    The Republicans are not so lustful of gaining power that they can gracefully accede to one of their own! Hillary would do almost anything to gain the power she thinks she is anointed to get!

    February 7, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Independant Observer

    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 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. Tim, DC

    In Romney's speech: Fearmongering, blaming Democrats for future terrorist attacks, and negative portrayals of France. This loser needs to get some material thats not at least 3 years old!

    February 7, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |

    Too bad Huckabee didn't do the honorable thing for our country back in January. Don't go far, Mitt, our country needs you.

    and hey, BUSHIE SMALLS ... check out your facts before you make statements like that!! Check the news as of Monday, February 4th and next time know a little more about what you pretend to know!!!

    AM MN ...... your comment says more about yourself than it does of Mitt Romney!!

    February 7, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. David

    Why doesn't Hillary do the same and just leave forever???

    Iraq and the Economy are #1 for Americans!

    Hillary voted for the war in Iraq

    Hillary donated 5 million of her own money to save her campaign.

    Sounds to me that she isnt capable of managing her own finances and most certainly doesnt know foreign policy.

    How is she going to run America again?

    February 7, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. I keep it real

    Well, look at the bright side Mitt. You'll have plenty of time to catch up with Big Love on HBO! You may even be able to take on another wife or better yet run for king profit of your cult!

    Don't go away mad Mitt, just GO AWAY!

    February 7, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Bruce

    You gotta love it!!! For every ultra-conservative that McCain changes positions to convince he actually is a conservative, he loses 4 independents and moderate Republicans. Keep it up, Rush, Laura, and Ann–it shouldn't take all summer for the Republican party to become a pathetic minority 3d party, after Independents and Democrats.

    February 7, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. JC

    "...Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you."

    February 7, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Lars, DC

    He did the right thing. Too bad we lose the only honorable candidate. Say what you will but his life reflects the kind of personal and professional success and stability that most of us strive for. Also, shame on all you religious bigots!!!

    This lifelong republican will need a personal phone call from McCain before I give him my vote. His only chance is to select a true conservative otherwise he can for the most part be grouped in with the dems and then it starts looking like Obama time...Oh, and if he selects huck (poser bigot) then it's definately Obama time.

    February 7, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Karin

    To "go believe":
    Could Obama do the same for the sake of his party? Or Reps may keep running White House for next four years…

    Could Hillary do the same for the sake of the party she loves so much?

    February 7, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. Bert DOGGG

    Mitt romney ur real sissy girl

    February 7, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. baracks obamr

    I still don't understand democratic support. Everyone, EVERYONE complains about their taxes, even those that don't pay income tax. We have TWO candidates that have both come out and said they want to raise taxes and people still support them.

    Do you look for muggers so you can give them your wallet?

    I can't vote for anyone that openly wants to steal more of my money.

    I personally feel the best situation is when one part control congress and the other controls the presidency. It slows things and forces more compromise. If the republicans take back congress, Obama won't be so bad.

    If the dems keep congress, then let's hope the repubs get the presidency.

    I don't like McCain, or Huckabee, and I had issues with Romney, but at least all three believe that lower taxes are better for everyone.

    All three want to win in the middle east.

    Ron Paul is right on many things, but his idealism is too simplistic and he's too much of a nutjob. That's why so many nuts have flocked to him (birds of a feather...).

    I still don't like McCain dancing around immigration by saying he'll secure the border BEFORE pursuing further reform (meaning amnesty). If he can actually secure the border and keep the number of illegals from growing, I'll be happy. We can prevent amnesty when the bill comes back on the table, just like last time.

    But I think I can vote for him if it'll keep the government out of my pocketbook.

    How many supreme court justices are getting ready to retire? Do you really want another Ruth Bader-Ginsberg?

    Let's all sing kumbaya and realize that even a president listens to his constituents when they are loud enough. McCain is willing to go the right direction, we just need to prod him at the right times.

    Remember, pundits do change their minds, Rush supported Bush in 2000, now he's ripping him apart. If McCain realizes he needs the entire party to win and shows he's earnest, he can gain talk radio support again and by extent more republican support.

    February 7, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. bojo

    It just goes to show you that mountains of money and "the right" positions and pundit acclaim do not turn a candidate into a winner.
    The American people vote for the person, and they just didn't like Romney.

    February 7, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Gabriel

    "Saddam killed 150 people per day on his 18 year campaign. If that's not terrorism I don't know what is. You're proof to the statement," If democrats were any smarter, they would be republicans.""

    Levi, buddy... do I need to explain to you the fallacies in your argument or can you figure them out yourself? I mean, if this is how you really feel, then you must be writing tons of letters to your congresspersons, right?

    "Dear Senator, Just as it was necessary to start a war to stop Saddam from terrorizing his own people, I now request that you start wars in Iran, North Korea, China, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Sudan, Liberia, Kenya, Chad, Zaire, Nigeria, Nepal, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Mexico, and Colombia, leaving our country completely broke and the world completely devastated. Thank you." Either stick by your arguments or don't. If this war was really about standing up against a tyrant then why wasn't it sold that way?

    February 7, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Me

    Talk about spin, this one is just insane. Captain Snake Oil here is now trying to paint himself as martyr to McCainia.

    "Oh woe is me, I must SUSPEND my campaign, not end it outright, but, uh, you know, SUSPEND it, so I'M STILL HERE AND YOU CAN STILL VOTE FOR ME and stuff but not really because McCain = demon seed and I would've totally won and stuff were it not for that evil little Vietnam POW. Oh and uh go Republicans or something"

    It's so stupid it's brilliant. Victim culture meets partisan pandering. The idea is that Romney, the biggest phony of all who tried to buy an entire presidential election, is this Reaganesqe casualty of the media/establishment machine that makes McCain. If he doesn't get an edge again, he at least gets then brand recognition AND victim status (both all the rage these days in the US) for the NEXT time he tries to buy a presidential election without having to spend more money.

    To be fair, McCain sucks as well and in reality is actually the bigger corporate/establishment shill than even Romney is, but both of them and the Repubs deserve each other.

    February 7, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. Jordan

    Mitt Romney is the most presidential of all the candidates. What an amazing man. He may not get the nomination this time around, but he'll be back. He really is the future Reagan. We'll see what McCain can do.

    February 7, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. JC

    I thank the anti-mormon bigots for a good opportunity to

    "...Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you."

    February 7, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. Chris

    I don't know why this is such a surprise to everyone....

    One of Mitt's rallying cries was that he is more businessman than politician. Quite simply, he hit the point where he realized that continuing the race was a bad investment.

    February 7, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Hillphil

    “Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat,” said Romney.
    I see nothing wrong with that, What are we winning? Nothing

    GO Hillary or Obama

    February 7, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. mike

    What happens to his unspent campaign donations? I think this is a valid question that's been on my mind and I simply can't find a credible answer. I worked for the Secret Service for a number of years and saw first-hand the lavish lifestyle of campaigners and saw many drop out with unspent money in their campaign coffers, but have yet to see any accountability to the contributors. Perhaps, just perhaps Romney didn't signal his intent until the last minute in order to keep the cash flowing in. But regardless of the reason, I'm left wondering where it goes after a candidate quits the race. Anyone have any theories or know of the pertinent regulations?

    February 7, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. HILLARY for President!

    Let's make history...

    February 7, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. Calif RN

    I don't understand. If Evangelicals weren't taught to hate mormons from the time they were toddlers, we could have had a great leader in Mitt Romney. Why? Why the hatred? I have attended Mormon churches before and I have never heard any anti any religion teaching. Your ignorance and the brainwashing you have experienced has created a fear that just lost us the nomination of a very smart man. For those of you who have difficulty with math, Mitt "suspended' his bid because there's no way he'll have enough delegates to compete with McCain...and Huckabee has even less than Mitt. Fear from ignorance just cost us big time.

    February 7, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Doesnt Matter

    I cant believe the way to get elected President is to say you will continue a war. The stupidest thing Ive ever heard. I guess no more stupid than believing that all the G I s that have died in Irag has made a difference as to which rag head wants to kill you.

    February 7, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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