The story behind it:
WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney ended his White House bid Thursday, saying he was stepping aside for the good of his party and supporters should unite behind frontrunner John McCain.
"I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, in this time of war, I have to stand aside for our party and for our country," Romney told a group of conservatives in Washington, prompting boos from the crowd of supporters.
Romney, who was the most viable Mormon ever to run for president, won 11 states in the presidential race and got more than 4 million votes, but had faced a near impossible task of catching up to the delegate count of McCain, who took some of the biggest
Romney, his eyes puffy, roused the sleepy crowd to their feet with his stock speech about returning conservative principles. The scores of supporters in the room didn't want to accept Romney's withdrawal from the race.
"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 Sen. Clinton or Obama would win," Romney said, alluding to the two Democratic candidates for president.
"And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
Romney had spent more than $35 million of his own fortune in his bid for
the GOP nomination and some $55 million more in donations, including $5.2 million from Utahns.
But he failed to grab any high-profile wins outside the one in his native state of Michigan.
Super Tuesday handed Romney several more disappointing losses, but he vowed to trudge on despite a clear indication that McCain was close to the GOP nomination.
On Wednesday, Romney huddled with advisers and apparently changed his mind.
Supporters, who had packed the giant ballroom of a Washington hotel with foam mitts, signs and powersticks, were near tears. Romney himself said this was a tough choice for his family.
"This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose," Romney said. "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."