Romney Leaves Race, Cements McCain's Lead Mitt Romney suspended his campaign for president Thursday, bowing to the mathematical logic that says John McCain will be the nominee of the Republican Party. Romney had poured tens of millions of dollars from his personal fortune into an effort that left him hundreds of delegates behind McCain.
NPR logo

Romney Leaves Race, Cements McCain's Lead

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18784700/18784687" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Romney Leaves Race, Cements McCain's Lead

Romney Leaves Race, Cements McCain's Lead

Romney Leaves Race, Cements McCain's Lead

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18784700/18784687" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Mitt Romney suspended his campaign for president Thursday, bowing to the mathematical logic that says John McCain will be the nominee of the Republican Party. Romney had poured tens of millions of dollars from his personal fortune into an effort that left him hundreds of delegates behind McCain.

Candidates' Cash Flow

Mitt Romney spent $35 million of his own money before he suspended his campaign for president. See where the remaining candidates stand in the race for campaign cash.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney startled conservatives today with a major announcement.

Mr. MITT ROMNEY (Former Republican Governor, Massachusetts): This isn't easy decision. I hate to lose.

SIEGEL: Romney told the conservative conference in Washington that he's dropping out of the presidential race in order to give front runner John McCain a clear shot at the Democrats.

Mr. ROMNEY: If this were only about me, I could go on. But it's never been only about me. I entered this race because I love America. And because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country.

(Soundbite of crowd)

SIEGEL: Romney's withdrawal comes two days after the Super Tuesday contest. He had fallen far behind John McCain in the race for delegates.

Joining us now is NPR's Scott Horsley who has been following the Romney campaign. Scott, Romney said Tuesday night that the contest wasn't over, that he plan to fight on to the convention. What's changed?

SCOTT HORSLEY: One thing that changed, Robert, is the size of John McCain's delegate lead became clear. When Romney spoke on Tuesday, they were still counting votes in California. And even though California is not a winner take all state, the winner John McCain, took nearly all the delegates and that really left Romney with no realistic chance of catching him.

SIEGEL: It was a winner-take-all, I think, by congressional district essentially.

HORSLEY: That's right.

SIEGEL: Romney said today in his explanation of why he's dropping out, he said it's because the U.S. is a nation at war and it's important to launch a united campaign against the Democrats who favor withdrawal in Iraq. How important do you think that was to Romney?

HORSLEY: Well look, if Romney still thought he could beat McCain, I don't think he'd care so much about getting out of the way. It's not as if the Democrats have a clear nominee of their own at this point. But Romney is a very smart businessman and he's mantra is look at the numbers. There's truth in numbers. And for him right now, the numbers just don't add up. This is a fellow who made his fortune in business not only by bank rolling promising start up companies, but also by knowing when to pull the plug on failing enterprises and I think that's what he's doing here.

SIEGEL: Yeah. Speaking of his fortune, he sank a lot of his own money into this race.

HORSLEY: That's right. He - $35 million as of the end of last year and no doubt more than that in New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada and Florida over the first few weeks of this year.

Interestingly, after he lost Florida last week, he did not mount a huge national advertising buying in the days leading up to Super Tuesday. He did advertise in California - he had an ad budget he said somewhere in the seven figure range. But it was nothing like the kind of money, at least on a per capita basis that he had invested earlier in the race. And that was taken by some as a sign that once he lost the Florida primary, even though he kept campaigning, Mitt Romney had rid the writing on the wall.

SIEGEL: Mitt Romney as we heard earlier was very well regarded among very conservative Republicans. He never quite stripped the criticism that he had reinvented himself for this race. And whatever he did, in the way of changing positions, it didn't seem to work.

HORSLEY: No, that's right. As governor of Massachusetts, he had campaigned as a fiscal conservative but sort of a pragmatist and not someone overly concerned with social issues. He reached out to social conservatist when he decided to run for president. But he was out flagged on the right by Mike Huckabee. He later retooled his message and stressed his economic credentials, his business background, but that didn't quite pull him out of the wind in Florida either. Ultimately, Mitt Romney who is a very successful salesman was not able to close his biggest deal.

SIEGEL: Okay. Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: NPR's Scott Horsley who has been following the Romney campaign for months.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mitt Romney Drops Out of GOP Presidential Race

Mitt Romney Announces He's Discontinuing His Campaign

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18772382/18778872" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

John Dickerson of Slate.com Discusses What Went Wrong for Romney on 'Day to Day'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18772382/18772703" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Mitt Romney announced he was suspending his presidential campaign on Thursday, a move that all but cedes the Republican nomination to rival Sen. John McCain.

Romney — a former Massachusetts governor who spent $35 million of his own money in pursuit of the White House, as well as millions more that he raised from others — told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., that dropping out was for the good of the Republican Party, which needs to unite for the general election.

"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or (Barack) Obama would win," he said. "And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

Romney added that it was not an easy decision for him. "I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our sponsors ... have given a great deal."

"I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party, and for our country," he said.

With McCain's apparently unassailable lead in the delegate count, Romney's withdrawal effectively hands the nomination to the maverick Arizona senator.

Romney's departure leaves only former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Rep. Ron Paul in the race with McCain. Neither of them comes close to the 1,191 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination.

Overall, McCain has 707 delegates, Romney 294 and Huckabee 195. Romney did not say what he will do with the delegates he has won so far.

Romney failed to win a major primary or caucus. He was successful in states he has lived in and states close by. But he failed to win over Republican evangelicals suspicious of his Mormon faith, who turned instead to Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister.

Romney was also accused of flip-flopping from relatively liberal to conservative positions.

Romney often called himself the "conservative's conservative" and has frequently assailed McCain's moderate credentials. On Thursday, Romney gave McCain qualified praise but did not offer an endorsement.

"I disagree with Sen. McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating al-Qaida and terror," Romney said.