Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney suspended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, explaining Thursday that he wanted to step aside so a Republican can be president and continue the fight against terrorism worldwide.
"In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," the former Massachusetts governor said at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference Thursday afternoon. "This is not an easy decision. I hate to lose."
"If this were only about me, I'd go on. But it's never been only about me. I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, in this time of war I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country."
Romney's withdrawal leaves GOP front-runner John McCain as an even stronger contender. And as McCain is expected to reach out to Romney's supporters, he must now grapple with how to unite his party.
"He (McCain)'s a conservative, he's been a conservative for a long time, but on occasion he departs from the conservative orthodoxy," commented CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
"He is now advertising his ability to make bipartisan deals on issues because that's what voters seem to want this year," he added.
But McCain is optimistic that he can bring conservatives aboard his campaign and unite the party behind him.
"We will unite the party behind our conservative principles and move forward and win the general election in November," he said.
According to exit polls, conservatives made up 63 percent of the Republican primary voters. Moderates made up 27 percent and liberals composed 10 percent of Republican primary voters.