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Romney announces end of race
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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced on Thursday that he would suspend his campaign.

"This is not an easy decision ...I hate to lose," Romney told a conservative group in a Washington hotel. "I feel I must now stand aside for our party and for our country."

 Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and his wife Ann (L) appear at his "Super Tuesday" primary election night rally in Boston, Feb. 5, 2008.

"Today we are a nation at war. And Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror: They would retreat, declare defeat ... I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," said the former Massachusetts governor, 60.

However, Romney did not announce his endorsement on any candidate left in the Republican camp.

CNN political analysts said that the messages Romney delivered in his Thursday speech sounds familiar with those of his rival John McCain.

"Now, I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues ...But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, and finding and executing Osama bin Laden," he told the Conservative Political Action Conference.

"I agree with him on eliminating Al Qaida and terror worldwide," he added.

Romney's campaign was badly damaged on the Super Tuesday on Feb.5, when Arizona Senator McCain overwhelmingly led in the numbers of winning states and delegates who are supposed to vote for him in the party's nomination convention early September.

Besides his momentum to go farther, Romney has lost about 35million U.S. dollars of his own fortune in his campaign lasting more than one year ago.

According to the party's rule, after a candidate suspends his campaign, he remains technically a candidate who is entitled to keep any statewide pledged delegates as well as their district-level delegates.

In the case of officially dropping out of the race, a Republican candidate has to forfeit statewide delegates. Although his name remained at the ballots, Romney was considered to have conceded to McCain who has only one step away from being the Republican presidential candidacy.

On the Super Tuesday, out of the 21 states holding Republican primaries and caucuses, McCain led in nine states and won about 40percent of the populous votes, compared to Romney's seven states,31 percent, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's five states, 21 percent.

The number of delegates McCain has gained skyrocketed 714, much more than the combination of Romney's 286 and Huckabee's 181.

As the fifth Mormon who sought for presidency in the U.S. history, Romney has remained in the first tier of the candidates since the 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses kicked off.

Despite his controversial religious belief, the Harvard graduate's huge success in business and commendable record in dealing with scandal-tainted Salt Lake City winter Olympics games in 2002, boosts support from many Republican voters who were expecting better economy, crisis management, and the party's return to "true conservatism."

However, he made a U-turn change to his stance on issues like abortion that was criticized as flip-flop, inviting doubts over his credibility.

What is more, Romney had to share conservative voters, his supporter base, with former Baptist minister Huckabee. Seen from the South Carolina primary and some Super Tuesday races, McCain also took away a significant share of conservatives.

(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2008)

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