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. Jeremy

    Judging from quite a few of these posts, looks likes religious bigotry is alive and well in the USA. I commend the USA for getting to a point where a woman or black president is not an issue... but it's a shame that there is still a strong anti-mormon sentiment still out there and so many bigots in our society.

    Mitt leaving is really unfortunate news. More a case of Huckabee and Romney splitting too many voters then McCain being the best IMHO. I vote on character, temperament, and leadership and it looks like Obama will get my 'Republican' vote. I can't see myself suporting McCain. I'm done with that type of government.

    February 7, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. DesertHigh

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    I laughed until I realized how absolutely scary this comment is.

    February 7, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. Barack and Roll

    now all we need is huckabee out and were good

    February 7, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. Glen, Boston, MA

    I wonder why there's so much fear at the heart of conservatism to suggest that Democrats are going to welcome terrorism. It's a horribly ignorant statement, especially seeing as we have only fueled terrorism worldwide in the past 8 years.

    Terrorist attacks to date have all been in liberal meccas and epicenters of global power: DC and NY. Most conservatives live far from any of that. I don't understand what they're so afraid of.

    Perhaps it is a psychological fear – having to establish a firm boundary around their worldview. Very interesting psychology.

    February 7, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. rodlang

    Willard Romney has changed positions more often than a call girl. Now McCain is doing the same thing to appease the right wing fascists. Neither has a chance of winning in November. The American people don't want to live under fascism (excluding the talk radio crowd, they seem to like the idea).

    February 7, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. RK

    Good riddance. It is time for moderate and centrist Republicans to take back our party that has been infested by conservatives who have destroyed the party over the last decade. Moderate and centrist Republicans have sat quietly for so long without any kind of voice while the conservative wing has run a mock. Now, the conservatives cry foul and whine like babies because they cannot control the party any longer or have their way. With Republicans like Governor Schwarzenegger and similar others, hopefully the Republican Party can return to its roots and come out of the "Dark Ages" that have inflicted it. The Republican Party is need of a serious reformation and hopefully this is the start. The moderate and centrist wing needs to strike back against the conservative wing and force them out. Let's hope this is a start.

    February 7, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Peaches

    Good Bye.

    February 7, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Ellen

    There's another reason he's "suspended" and not "ended" his campaign. This way he can still go around cup in hand and try to find donors willing to make up fo the money he put in from his own pocket. Good luck!

    February 7, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. MH

    Best presidential canidate since Reagan! People don't understand it's the economy and Mitt understood it better than any of these contenders!

    He would have been an excellent president and maybe more people will understand that after 4-years with either Mccain, Hillary or Obama!

    This country will be worse off in 2112 and hopefully Mitt will run again and people will realize what they missed the past 4 years!!

    February 7, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. S

    I absolutely refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils. I'll vote for Donald Duck over McCain or Clinton/Obama

    February 7, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Judith in New Jersey

    Reading through these blogs, even though the Iraq War, has to be of major concern, I wonder if we were listening to what Romney had to say about a myriad of issues facing our country. Romney could have secured more support from Conservatives and Moderates alike, had he focused on this type of dialogue while campaigning. Unfortunately, during the last CNN debate, Romney allowed himself to be lured into a two-man debate over the 'withdrawal issue' that subsequently monopolized the entire debate – thus allowing little time for the candidates to address other important issues facing our nation. Sadly, not enough emphasis has been placed on the concerns of Conservative voters that Romney finally focused on today. If Huckabee continues with his campaign and wants to be competitive, he needs to gain momentum by aggressively addressing the issues that Romney brought to our attention today. Unfortunately, these two candidates have not done so before now; hence, we have a leading candidate who does not have the 'trust' of many within the Republican Party.

    February 7, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. David

    so tired of bigoted idiots like AM MN and Bushie Smalls. reap the whirlwind. and these candidates need to stop the charade. this fabricated war is doing nothing but lining the elites pockets. that was the intention. the CIA created al Queda years ago. wake up!

    February 7, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. The Gipper

    Romney was the best candidate - one on one, McCain had no chance and it's too bad that time wasn't on Romney's side. Huckabee is not 'presidential', he needs to go back to tending his hen house in Arkansas ....

    McCain has my vote now; the thought of Hillary and Bill back in the White House scares the hell out of me - Obama Bin Laden's got a lot of enthusiasm but the answer to every problem is NOT more government.

    For those of you liberals criticizing the Republican stance on the war & all of the soldiers lost and billions of $$ that have been spent, just wait to see what will happen if we pullout quickly; this war will be brought to your neighborhood by these lunatic jihadi followers – they are intent on bringing us down.

    Don't forget 911

    February 7, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Jim

    Maybe he will flip flop on this one too and rejoin the race.

    Good riddance. What an idiot.

    February 7, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. ag

    GO HUCKABEE !!!!!!
    Pedal to the Metal..... don't stop until the White House...
    Some suggestions for the cabinet:

    Secretary of Defense:

    February 7, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Dan, Washington DC

    “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.”

    Yeah, I'd sure hate to go back to a Democrat President, seeing as how under Bill Clinton, we were under constant terror threats, had the worst attack in American history happen, and started a war with no plan in a place where Al Qaeda wasn't, thus producing a ground swell of hatred towards us that reached higher levels than it ever had before. Oh wait, that happened under Bush and a Republican controlled congress.

    February 7, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Charles, San Antonio, Texas

    Romney talks like he’s such a patriot, and yet you don’t see even one of his five sons fighting for their country.

    February 7, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Maryann - Orlando, FL

    I can see the media has influenced a lot of people as I read here that the choices are McCain and Huckabee!

    There is ANOTHER candidate running on the Republican side, people!!

    Just because CNN and other MSM don't acknowledge him.

    Please look at Ron Paul – CONSTITUTIONALIST – don't be a media sheeple!

    I know he doesn't always tell us good news, and that's because we are in deep doo doo. He's the only one being painfully honest with us as opposed to the other candidates that give us nothing but slogans and rhetoric.

    February 7, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Billy Bob

    "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.


    Typical Romney supporter.

    February 7, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. Noel

    Ahh if only Obama would do the same for them Dems and take his proper VP slot we would be in buisiness

    February 7, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. chrisconlin

    "...Conservatives have no other choices in this election..."

    This among other things is exactly what is wrong with today's so called "conservatives." Someone please tell me what conservative actually means! Answer this correctly and one will quickly find that there has only been one choice for real conservatives (historically) THIS ENTIRE ELECTION SEASON. If I actually have to say his name then I suggest you sit down for a while and really think about what being a conservative actually means.

    February 7, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. Nathan

    I am amazed at all the viciously negative comments being posted. Are you all really as miserably malicious as these comments sound?

    February 7, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  23. Kris L

    The Dems could have ended the war a long time ago if they wanted. They haven't yet and they won't if they get office. All words and no action.

    February 7, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  24. Tolu, Minneapolis, MN

    What was that story about Mitt taking one from John Edwards's playbook a few days before Super Tuesday? Make that "two" from the playbook: not sleeping for 36 hours before Super Tuesday ... and "suspending" his presidential campaign.

    So long, Mitt! You are obviously the next republican nominee in line. Sit back for 2016!

    February 7, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. Lost Hope

    America needs educators!!!! The proof is in the comments! People didn't support an honest man because they don't recognize one when they see him. McCain's telling supporters to vote for Huckabee, just to sway votes when he saw he wasn't winning, is not an honorable display of integrity or honesty.

    February 7, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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