Crowd Stunned As Romney Drops

Hundreds of Romney supporters packed into a basement ballroom here did not see it coming.

"Now, I disagree with John McCain on many issues," he said, drawing a chorus of anticipatory boos -- they thought Romney was going to start to attack McCain. "But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to he successful in Iraq."

A beat.

And then:

"I must now stand aside, for our party and our country," Romney said. "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."

Romney supporters began to boo. Others shouted, "No!" At least one woman shouted, loudly, "Why?"

"And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," he said.

More crowd noise: "No!" and "Oh no"

"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, and because I love America. This has never been about me."

The crowd: "Come on! No!"

Romney: "I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and our country."

"We love you Mitt," one woman yelled.

Romney received a standing ovation upon exiting. His supports filed out of the ballroom, fumbling for their cell phones. I saw one woman crying.

Booo.... Scatterde for our party and our country
We love u mitt