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. Tony

    No matter what people say, after all Romney seems to be the most honorable candidate from the Republicans. I am Democrat but wouldn't have had any problem voting for him especially if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination. I can not say the same about the rest of Republicans. Huckabee is a joke and I really don't like McCain. I thought that McCain would only get the 'cranky old men's vote' and really don't understand what happend to the Republicans to support him. As I sad, it's a really sad day for USA (and at the same time happy for McCain, Huckabee and their supporters) for the choice left on the Republican's side.

    February 7, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. SW

    "I vote the party, not the person" said someone quoted for the article. That is a major problem-in both parties. People don't want to listen and hear what someone stands for and wants to do- they just vote like sheep.

    February 7, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. Zoe

    More likely, Mitt's team calculated how much more of his own money he'd have to put in and he had a cow. Even more likely, Mrs. Mitt had the cow and told him to drop out..

    February 7, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Tim

    I'm not a Romney fan at all, but I'm shocked too. He ought to jump on board the McCain train.

    February 7, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. Kusa

    Oh well! One down and one to go! I wonder who is next??!!
    Let's continue to press on my "Dem" buddies.
    Go Barack!

    February 7, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. John, Kansas City, MO

    I guess since Giuliani dropped out, somebody else had to try and scare us all by dropping the terror bomb. This message is to everyone who still thinks that Iraq had anything to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11th – Please do not let people scare you into ignorance, and inform yourselves before voting in November.

    February 7, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. park more

    Good decision for the party and the country. Obama should do the same. If Obama gets the nomination, my vote will sadly go to McCain

    February 7, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. sportsguydave

    Good riddance to a bad candidate. Romney was just another clueless rich guy who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. We've had that for the past eight years.

    Guess wrapping yourself in the Reagan cloak ain't all it's cracked up to be, huh?

    February 7, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Bill

    Yes, "suspend." Like wet clothes hung out to dry.

    Okay Mitt. Blame the Democrats for your unelectability instead of the Republican voters who simply said "No way" to your phony persona.

    February 7, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. John

    Vvoting for the party and not the person....clearly why our country keeps running in circles.

    February 7, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Amanda

    I was surprised to hear of Mitt suspending his campaign and little sad. I felt he was the best republican candidate. I wish Huckabee would have swallowed is pride and dropped out because his bigotry is disgusting. I just want to see McCain and Huckabee go at each other now because they seemed so 'buddy, buddy' when they went after Mitt. McCain won't make it to the White House because he has divided his party. I will surely be voting democrat this time around. Mitt 2012!

    February 7, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Steven Newman

    Romney, you just made a complete fool of every regan Republican. What a two-faced coward you are. And talk about no backbone! Thank, God, you did quit: with such a weak spine, you would have lost any war our country had to fight in the years to come. In some ways, you were nothing more than a Napoleon: in search of a grat title to add to your name, but really more selfish than patriotic. have the guts to admit the truth: you quit because you didn't want to spend anymore of your precious money, not that you were worried about our country. People like Laura Ingram and Rush and Hannity have got to be feeling like absolute idiot by nw for having called you the great hope for America. If anything, you are a disgrace to anyone who ever loved this nation.

    February 7, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. Eric

    Time to vote in Obama so we can laugh at his Third World approach to politics. Of course, he is of Kenyan descent, look at how they are doing right about now...

    If there is anything resembling America left after his 4 years, Mitt can return to rebuild!

    February 7, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Denny Payne

    Just because America is tired of the Bush Administration's fear-mongering and lies doesn't mean a vote for Democratic candidates is "surrendering to terror". That's patently ridiculous and offensive to those of us that hope the Democrats can rebuild our tarnished reputation which breeds terror in the first place. And "I vote the party, not the person"? Why on earth anyone thinks like this is incomprehensible to me. Do we really have to categorize everything as one of two choices? Laziness is all that is.

    February 7, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Tom

    Stay in Canada Mark, your an idiot if you can't answer your own ?? Mitt's smart and knows what is best for the Republicans at this time, you're obviously a Dem and wouldn't understand.

    February 7, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Ric

    So let me understand this. Romney is getting out of the race, he's conceding to Mcain. Basically he is declaring defeat and retreating. All the while in the same breath he is saying the democrats are bad because they want to, as Romney puts it, declare defeat and retreat. But right now isn't Romney doing exactly the same thing. I see this as more of the hypocrisy of politics and the right – listen to what I say, don't look at what I do.

    February 7, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. happy


    February 7, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Willard R. Tinsley Sr.

    First, you can't call yourself a Christian and be a Mormon at the same time. Why didn't anyone bring up the issuse of the prejudice within the Mormon Organnization? Second, It's a lie, Romney droped out because of money, it wasn't noble stance. Whoever President, Republican or Democratic, will deal with Terrorism. Same old fear tactics. Oh yea...most Evangelicals are a joke. Why don't they tell the true about the Word of God? Sad to say, most American don't have a clue about what is really happening with this Country and especially the whole World. I WOULD DEBATE, TO A POINT, ANY ONE IN POLITICS OR ANY SO CALL CHRISTIAN LEADER OR PERSON IN POWER. I WELCOME YOU!!!

    February 7, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Concerned

    Haven't the Republicans worn out the "Democarts love terrorists and hate the US rhetoric already? The only ones listening to this nonsense are themselves and now they're surprised their time in the white house is up? get real.

    February 7, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Steve

    Why the surprise? Here is a guy with a track record that says "FLIP FLOP." His withdrawal from the race after saying he was in it to stay is just par for the course with him.

    So, as a conservative I can back Huckabee knowing that either Clinton or Obama will beat him handily, or I can support McCain who has a chance to win. Not much of a choice but I'd rather see McCain as President than Clinton or Obama.

    February 7, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Nikunj

    Another war monger bites the dust!

    Sugar Land, TX

    February 7, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Z, St. Louis

    "in this time of war.." Oh vomit.. Can't any Republican candidate
    not abuse this trumped up folly in Iraq or the ever popular "9/11" ?
    These are tottaly self created problems. It doesn't matter where the
    war is or who the boogeyman is when it comes to these politicians,
    it's just an excuse to do things and something to use to terrorize
    the populace with to get their way. A self induced crisis is still a crisis and they
    come rushing in with the "solutions" to the problem they created, making them the
    "hero" who saved us all from the bad guys..And i fear that the politicos and
    lobbyists will continue to create crisis and trump up problems for their own
    selfish needs..Pretty soon, crisis and reactionary politics is the norm..
    (Credit to George Orwell there for those concepts and a bit of paraphrasing)

    Mitt, your a phoney egomaniac,go back to whatever factory you came
    from and take your Stepford Wife and kids with you..You no more represent
    reality in the world than a Ken Doll represents a man..

    February 7, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Vince

    Why are all the "conservatives" shocked? This guy has flip-flopped on just about everything that he ran his campaign on. He just said on Tuesday that he was still in the race. Mitt, like McVain, lie about where the Democrats stand on the war in Iraq hoping that if people hear it enough that they will belive it. This is just more of the typical Republican rhetoric. Wake up Republicans... most Americans don't approve of the war in Iraq! You just want to keep the White House by whatever lies and deception you can contrive. This is just too funny! The GOP is finally paying the price for delivering the worst president ever!

    February 7, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Captain Obvious

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    And there, in a nutshell, is the root cause of many of our governmental problems. Blindly supporting any party, basically putting the party's fortunes above the country's, is complete foolishness.

    February 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Mike Murphy

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    That is really the problem, isn't it? I can never understand why someone would vote a party line.

    I guess it is easier to have someone else do your thinking for you.

    February 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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