Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has suspended his presidential campaign, making it all but certain that his rival, Republican frontrunner Senator John McCain, will be their party's nominee for the White House in November. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.
Speaking to an admiring audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C., former Governor Romney admitted that it was not easy for him to quit the race after campaigning hard across the country for a full year.
"This is not an easy decision," he said. "I hate to lose. My family, my friends, you, my supporters across the country. You have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot to becoming president. If this were only about me, I would go on. But it has never been only about me."
The former governor and successful businessman has fought a tough and at times contentious battle for the nomination against Senator McCain. Romney has said he is the true conservative in the race, seeking to encourage mistrust of McCain, considered by some Republicans an unreliable maverick because of his positions on immigration and campaign finance reform.
Romney did not formally endorse McCain. But he did say that although he and McCain disagree on many issues, they agree on doing whatever it takes to win in Iraq and in the war on terror. He said their Democratic opponents, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to "retreat" from Iraq and the war on terror.
"Now if I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention," he said. "I want you to know, I have given this a lot of thought. I would forestall the launch of a national campaign. And frankly I would be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win. Frankly in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
Republicans use a winner-take-all system in awarding delegates for the nomination in most states. Arizona Senator John McCain emerged from Super Tuesday as his party's clear frontrunner, with 707 of the more than 1,000 delegates needed to secure the nomination.
Romney has 294 delegates, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has 195 and Texas Congressman Ron Paul has 14. Huckabee and Paul are still in the race.
On the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama are virtually even in the race for delegates. But Senator Obama has raised more than $7 million for his presidential campaign in the hours since Super Tuesday, while Senator Clinton says she loaned her campaign $5 million of her own money late last month.
The campaigns are looking ahead to contests this Saturday in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington state, and February 12 primaries in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.