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. Maha

    *waves* Bye-bye! =)

    Obama '08 all the way!

    February 7, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Jeff, St. Joseph, MI

    Romney showed his true colors, going gets tough, and he quits. Great pick Rush!

    February 7, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. Tom

    A flip-flopper and a quitter. Just who we want for president.

    February 7, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. jack, phoenix,az

    Very Unfortunate. I will vote for Obama, given the choice between McCain and the Democrats.

    February 7, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Doug

    So now are choices are McCain or Huckabee?

    More accurately Sargent Carter or Gomer Pyle !!!!

    February 7, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. Jeff

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

    That is why politics should be left to people, not sheep! As they learned in Germany and the U.S.S.R., "THE PARTY" is not always right, nor does it always have the best interest of the people it's supposed to represent at heart! Power for the sake of having it, is more often a losing proposition than a winning one. Look at what the past 7 years has brought this country! These people are not Americans...they are flock animals!

    February 7, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. RJ, El Paso TX

    Surrender to terror? You cut-and-run loser!

    Please, keep up with your Karl Rove tactics. America has had enough and it'll just make it that much easier for Democrats.

    February 7, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. MrR0ng

    Bigotry and Back Door deals have combined to take Mr. Romney out of the race.

    Americans are so stupid that they do not deserve to have a leader like Mitt Romney.

    When the economy falls at the hands of Can't Run my Own Campaign McCain or tax and spend Clinton, just remember that the bigotry of the south and McCain's partnership with Huckabee brought our only hope down.

    Expect to see Huckabee drop out and take on McCain's VP role soon.

    February 7, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Jayson

    As long as Obama continues to go strong and wins McCain is dead on arrival due to his strong pro-war views as well as the fact that he is just as stubborn as Bush if not more so. Not to mention the increased probability that he as President would take military action in accordance with his Constitutional authority to do so. The end result would be even more instability in the Middle East and the strong probability of impeachment proceedings against him.

    So which is worse? A supposed Republican who very well could get himself impeached and further hurt the Republicans reputation. Or someone like Hillary or Obama who has the chance to make a mess of Iraq and screw up the American economy and damage the Democratic parties reputation? Because no matter who you get for president their is a whole lot of potential for further division in this country as well as continued problems.

    February 7, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    Wow. What an honorable man. To hang on would have been undignified to him.

    February 7, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Dave

    ". . . but ultimately 'I vote the party, not the person.'"

    This is what's wrong with America.

    February 7, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. EJ in Sprin Texas

    Oh my goodness,,,now what are Rush, Sean, and Ann amongst other far right conservatives going to do? They certainly can't throw support behind Hillary or Obama.....they all claim to HATE John McCain and Huckabee, seeing he was the only one to even show up at an African-American given function this year really has to be far too liberal for them also. Well maybe they can wake up and smell the coffee and see that being a moderate isn't all that bad. The far right hate mongers and the neo cons can either deal with this, start a third party, or throw Ol' Ralphie out there again to muck everything up.

    February 7, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Mark

    The suggestion that a Democratic administration would somehow enable terrorists is proof enough that this moron (Romney) does not belong in the White House.

    February 7, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. 30%er

    Now its time for the Huck to step aside in order for republicans to come to the reality of who there party is running in this election. there is every reason for Huck to do the right thing for his party as Romney stated were his reasons for stepping aside. Lets run what we brung and get on with it Republicans !

    February 7, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. King, GA

    Can Obama do the same for the sake of his party?

    February 7, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Billy

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    And this is something to be proud of?
    Isn't this the mistake that so many republican supporters who thought that George W was a fiscal conservative who are now shocked at how much government spending has skyrocketed under his watch made?
    I find it amazing that in the twenty-first century we still have a sizeable amount of people in this country that will walk into a voting booth and vote straight ticket with little to no thought.
    I have a hard time believing that this is what democracy is supposed to be.

    February 7, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. Eric - Chicago, IL

    "I vote the party, not the person"

    People like this are what got us in the mess we are in now. Call yourself what you want, democrat, republican, independent, green.... but voting straight ticket just because of the letter next to the candidate's name is destructive and unpatriotic.

    February 7, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. Guinness, Newark, DE

    “Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat,” said Romney.

    Despite numerous intelligent statements to the contrary, the GOP continues to insist that Iraq and the war on terror are inextricably linked. While we're devoting all our economic and military resources overseas, our borders and ports over here remain exposed. It's time the public sees through this ruse and vote into power leaders who will be more judicious with how our defense dollars are spent.

    February 7, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. Desiree

    Another one bites the dust, just 2 more to go....... Ron Paul 2008!!!!

    February 7, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. Ron Paul Ron

    We welcome those borderlin constitutionalists to come on over to the Ron Paul Revolution and join a team that will not run from the field!

    February 7, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Tom

    I appeal to all Romney supporters to join Ron Paul revolution to restore the Constitution.

    February 7, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. vicki gilson

    I am disappointed but I think Romney makes a valid point re: the Democrats and war -I too think it's honorable.

    I would just hope that the "Huckster" is not chosen as a running mate – and wonder if there's any way that Romney would be chosen. I don't care for McCain's philosophy, and I think his age is a real factor, but I absolutely will not vote for McCain if the "Huckster" is his mate – I absolutely detest him and am scared that should something happen to McCain, he would succeed.

    February 7, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. Angie, Charlotte NC

    Oh here we go with the "fear tactics". Didn't we already call out Bush on this?!? WE NEED CHANGE!!!!

    February 7, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Lee M, NJ

    Another phony bites the dust.
    Next that would do us a favor by leaving would be Clinton. Like Romney, with the Clintons, tt's all about them.
    And like Romney they would do anything and say anything just to "win". They learned from Karl Rove all too well. The country is finally tired of phonies.

    February 7, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. CO

    Any moron who says "I vote the party, not the person" should have their voter registration revoked and told to come back when they have some common sense.

    February 7, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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