Romney drops out
Romney announced that he's withdrawing from the race today via his speech to conservatives at the CPAC conference.
Mitt Romney told a conservative group briefly stunned silent by the news that he is suspending his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
During his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Romney said if he prolonged his run, it would hurt the party and front-runner John McCain's ability to defeat the Democratic nominee.
"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 (Hillary) Clinton or (Barack) Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," he said. ...
"I will continue to stand for conservative principles; I will fight alongside you for all the things we believe in. And one of those things is that we cannot allow the next president of the United States to retreat in the face of evil extremism," he then said to cheers and applause. ...
Campaign aides said Romney was suspending the campaign. He had spent an estimated $35 million of his own money to fund the increasingly longshot bid. By suspending rather than quitting he will be able to continue to collect donations from contributors....
It also means that he can hold on to his delegates at the convention and perhaps keep a little leverage on platform issues. More than that, I suppose there's a little bit of positioning for 2016 (or even 2012). I wouldn't be surprised if he uses the interim to start his own conservative lobbying/policy organization and/or PAC, (building off of the campaign and his earlier work under the Commonwealth PAC).
* Excerpts from Romney's speech here.
* Ace says "thanks" to "Vice-President Huckabee"