It's somehow fitting that the last people to know Mitt Romney was dropping his bid for the presidency were his supporters in the room. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Romnites were still handing out buttons and wildly waving posters when Mitt took the stage for a stump speech that GOP insiders had warned would be his last at least a half-hour beforehand. Some claimed that bad cell phone reception kept those in the assembly hall in the dark.Others suggested that working cell phones wouldn’t have turned on the light. Romney took the stage to wild applause and continued cheers during his speech, with only slight hints of what was to come—speaking of the support he had received from his family and voters in the past tense. Suddenly, it came. “I feel I now have to stand aside.”
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The faces of the faithful dropped. Some began to cry. "Frankly, in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror,” Romney continued as he surrendered his candidacy, stoically reminding his audience that a vote for the Democrats is a vote for Terror. “This is not an easy decision. I hate to lose," he said. Some buried their heads in their hands. Others screamed out NO! Romney's family thought YES as some portion of the family fortune would now survive beyond the convention in September. "Frankly, I'd be making it easier for Senator Clinton and Senator Obama to win," Romney proclaimed, falling on his sword and paving the path to St. Paul for John McCain, the bane of archconservatives everywhere.
Putting on that charming, post-Michigan, pre-Florida Romney smile, Romney found some common ground with McCain -- who would address the conference only hours later -- saying, “Now, 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.” Some supporters booed loudly, still taking pages out of the old Romney attack book which, by the candidate's watch, was at least five minutes behind the times. When McCain did take to the microphone, his speech was met with discordant tones of cheers and boos from party faithful clearly still raw from the Romney shocker at odds with the prospects of such a liberal presidency. Attendees interviewed afterwards were split -- some plastering shiny new McCain stickers over their Romney buttons, others vowing never to support the Amnesty Candidate, the McCain-Feingold Candidate, the Hillary’s Good Friend Candidate.
When former presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney headed offstage with his family, he left supporters to ponder the campaign that almost-was-something-maybe. After millions of contributed and personal dollars, speeches at the George Bush Presidential Library about Mormonism, a well-timed spiritual awakening and political reversal on the evils of abortion, promises to fight for ALL jobs in Michigan, a conservative message hijacked by a former governor and minister from Arkansas who lost a lot of weight and ran for president, a record number of invocations of Ronald Reagan and the Good Old Days to go along with silver and bronze medals galore, Romney was, for the record, for everything you liked, only twice as much, at least until such time as you are no longer for it, and then he was not for it either -- after all.
So long, Mitt. We never knew ya. -- Joe Horton