Former Massachusett's Gov. Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign Thursday, effectively ceding the GOP nomination to Sen. John McCain.
What does this mean for the GOP race for The White House? Watch CBN News' David Brody, following this report.
"I must now stand aside, for our party and our country," Romney told conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
"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 Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney said. ( Watch Romney's full speech.)
Romney's decision leaves McCain, who had a strong showing in Tuesday's super race for delegates, in the top position for the GOP nomination. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul trail far behind in the bid for delegates.
"This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose," he said today. "My family, my friends and our supporters, many of you right here in this room, have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America."
Overall, McCain led with 707 delegates, to 294 for Romney and 195 for Huckabee. It takes 1,191 to win the nomination at this summer's convention in St. Paul, Minn.
"I disagree with Senator 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-Qaeda and terror," Romney said.
Romney launched his campaign almost a year ago in his native Michigan. The former Massachusetts governor invested more than $40 million of his own money into the race. But he won just seven states on Super Tuesday, mostly small caucus states where he was expected to win.
"As of today, more than 4 million people have given me their vote for president. That's of course, less than Senator McCain's 4.7 million but quite a statement nonetheless. Eleven states have given me their nod, compared to his 13. Of course, because size does matter, he's doing quite a bit better with the number of delegates he's got," Romney said.
For nearly a year, Romney sought the social conservative support by emphasizing his opposition to abortion and gay marriage, as well as his support for tax cuts and health insurance that would benefit middle-class families.
"We need to teach our children that before they have babies, they get married," he told voters at his campaign events.
But he received constant criticism from his rivals for flip-flopping on the important issues. He was also questioned about his Mormon faith.
In the early voting primary, Romney cast himself as the true-Reagan conservative, emphasizing a strong national defense, a strong economy, and strong families.
But, on Jan. 3 in Iowa, he was beaten in an upset victory by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist minister who received an unexpected outpouring of support in the caucuses from voters identifying themselves as evangelicals.
Five days later, Romney suffered a second consecutive defeat in New Hampshire when McCain won the primary. While Romney came out on top in the Jan. 13 Michigan primary, it was not enough to stop McCain's momentum in South Carolina, Florida and finally in the Super Tuesday states.
Source: The Associated Press