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Romney Bows Out

Now there are two Republicans in real contention for the party's presidential nod. But John McCain appears to be the inevitable nominee. This, after his closest rival, Mitt Romney left the race.

The former Massachusetts announced yesterday that he'd decided to 'suspend' his campaign. WBUR's Fred Thys reports on how Romney reached that decision.

TEXT OF STORY

FRED THYS: The results of Super Tuesday brought mixed surprises to Mitt Romney's team. They had not expected him to do well in Minnesota, yet he won there. But adviser Tom Rath says the campaign was disappointed with the results in three other states:

TOM RATH: We came very, very close in two states that we thought would have been great wins for us. One was Georgia and the other one was Missouri. We lost each by four points. We were seeing in the national polling and reaction that we were getting on the ground a growing strength in California, and to lose that state as we did was very, very disappointing, and we certainly thought we'd carry more than two Congressional districts.

THYS: The day after Super Tuesday, Romney went into his national campaign headquarters in the North End, and met with his senior staff, a group of about ten people. They included his wife, Ann, his campaign manager, Beth Myers, his oldest son, Tagg, the campaign's senior counsel, Ben Ginsberg, and his old friend from Bain, Bob White, the chairman of the campaign. The meeting was called for people to outline different options for Romney. Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's traveling press secretary, says the campaign did see a narrow path to the nomination that would have involved persuading some of the super delegates to change allegiances.

ERIC FEHRNSTROM: And as a group, they looked at all the options going forward, and the Governor stated at that time that he wanted to do what was best for the party and what was best for the country.

THYS: Fehrnstrom recounted the events from Washington on his cell phone. He was one of the people present in Wednesday's meeting in the North End, and he says the senior staff had a pretty good idea at that point that Romney was looking seriously at standing aside.

FEHRNSTROM: And following that meeting, the Governor stepped into an all-staff meeting, and he was greeted with cheers and encouragement to go forward.

THYS: Fehrnstrom says Romney went home to work on his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. That night, he circulated drafts of the speech, and at that point, there it was, in black and white, for his senior advisors to read: he would be pulling out. The entire staff wasn't notified until shortly before before Romney took the stage in Washington yesterday to deliver his emotional address, to the consternation of many in the crowd and the applause of some.

MITT ROMNEY: If this were only about me, I'd go on, but it's never been only about me. I entered this race... I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I now have to stand aside for our party and for our country. You guys are great.

THYS: Romney urged the party to rally behind John McCain, but unlike Rudy Giuliani, Romney is not expected to go out on the stump for McCain, at least not right away. Romney's traveling press secretary, Eric Fehnrstom, say for now, Romney wants to go home and relax with his family.

This program aired on February 8, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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