Mark Halperin at The Page says Romney will drop out of the race. His announcement could come at his CPAC speech at 12:30pm. This means that McCain is definitely the Republican nominee because Huckabee doesn’t have any chance sidetracking him. McCain speaks at 3:00pm today.
Update: Halperin is on Fox now and says three GOP sources have confirmed that Romney is dropping out. It’s disappointing to say the least, but I understand why he’s doing this. He may not make the announcement at this speech today, but at the very least he could make some strong signals of his plans.
Bill Kristol predicted that he would announce that he’s pulling out of the race at today’s speech.
Update II: Karl Rove is on the phone with Fox News and says that he’s hearing as well that those inside the Romney camp understand that he’s going to drop out.
Update III: Fox has confirmed that Romney will suspend his campaign. Romney is taking the high road in order to protect the country from a Clinton or Obama administration which would really hurt the US. From the Associated Press:
John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign. “I must now stand aside, for our party and our country,” Romney prepared to tell conservatives.
“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 Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror,” Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
“This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. 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. But I entered this race because I love America.”
Update IV: According to Inside Charm City, Romney will endorse McCain. This is consistent with what Romney has said in the past. On several occasions during Republican debates, he said that the most important goal is to make sure a Republican wins the presidency and that all the men running for the GOP nomination need to get behind the GOP candidate once he’s chosen. He’s doing exactly what he said he would do.
Update V: Bookworm:
Ann Coulter can become a shill for Hillary, but I’m hoping others recognize that, no matter that McCain is not a conservative purist, he is still better than Hillary would be or, God forbid, Obama. And as I’ve said before, for all that Obama presents himself as a “unifier,” his hard left politics preclude him from ever unifying anything. McCain, however, who is a true centrist, may be just the person to heal some of the wounds this country has been feeling following two extremely divisive presidencies. I say that being fully cognizant of his many failings, both personal and political, but I’m a pragmatist, and refuse to lose sight of the fact that McCain is not just a little better, but is far better than the alternative.
Update VI: Brit Hume is on Fox and just said that McCain would be a fool to not reach out to Romney for the VP slot because the conservatives love Romney.
Update VII: Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee:
I don’t like John McCain. He is no better than my third-place choice for President, and I cannot drum up any enthusiasm to vote for him in November.
But I will.
I frankly don’t care if he plans on trying to make nice at CPAC today. Whatever olive branch he extends will be quickly forgotten once he finally clinches the nomination from Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, two candidates that so far refused to concede, but have very little chance of turning the tide of McCain’s improbable run for the nomination. Once nominated, McCain will tack even further towards the center as his leftward lurch continues.
I don’t like John McCain, but I will vote for him. I won’t stay home in protest. I won’t write in another candidate, either. This election is too important for that.
Update VIII: Romney did not endorse McCain, but there’s talk that he will eventually.
Update IX: Halperin has the transcript of Romney‘s speech today.
Update X: Video of Mitt announcing his campaign’s suspension:
Virginia’s five days away and Huck stands a chance of hurting McCain. Over to you, Christian leader.
John Podhoretz at Commentary:
Over the next few months, there will be a subtle dance between John McCain and Mitt Romney on the subject of the vice presidency. Romney must and should want it, since being the vice presidential nominee of the GOP will instantly make whoever is chosen one of the party’s leaders no matter what happens in the election (unless he embarrasses himself). But McCain seems not to like Romney, and he is an unusually personal politician — I suspect it will be difficult for him to choose someone whom he won’t consider a friend. Still, Romney does have strengths McCain does not, particularly on economic issues. But there is that big, overhanging, difficult-to-answer question: How many votes would his being a Mormon cost the ticket? Condemn me for raising it if you like, but you can be sure it will be part of any deliberation involving the selection of Romney for the Republican ticket.
What makes Romney’s move so brilliant politically is that has has pulled the rug out from under Mike Huckabee. Just this morning, there was quite a bit of talk about a McCain/Huckabee ticket because of how much they like each other, how they were careful to not criticize each other. Now after Romney’s speech at CPAC, some can’t help but ask Mike who?