Minnesotans react to Romney withdrawalby Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio
Some high-profile Minnesota Republicans are feeling low this afternoon with the news that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is dropping out the presidential race.
Meanwhile Arizona Senator John McCain's Minnesota backers are rejoicing, because Romney's exit has further solidified McCain's front-runner status.
St. Paul, Minn. — Washington lobbyist and former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., was a top national policy advisor to Mitt Romney's campaign.
He said Romney decided last night to bow out, and Weber said Romney made the right decision and made it with class.
"As much as he wanted to win the White House, there was no wailing, gnashing of teeth, pounding on the desk," Weber said. "He made a solid, cold decision about where he stood and figured that there was not a clear path for him to win the nomination and that staying in the race would only be harmful to the Republican Party and the country."
Romney beat McCain in Minnesota's Republican caucus this week by nearly two-to-one. But overall he carried only seven out of 22 states on Super Tuesday, and because the states McCain won were bigger, McCain is way ahead in the delegate race.
Romney's Minnesota campaign co-chair Brian Sullivan said he's disappointed, but doesn't want to second-guess Romney's decision.
"I think the folks at the campaign nationally did the math, and I think the result in California was probably the straw that broke the camel's back," Sullivan said. "And if you can't win in a state like that or a state like Missouri, I think the campaign probably just said, 'Where are we going to pick up enough votes to get the nomination?'"
But not all of his Minnesota backers thought Mitt Romney made the right decision to suspend his campaign. Former Minnesota Republican Party Vice Chair Annette Meeks wasn't ready to give up.
"I was watching the speech live as Gov. Romney gave it, and I would have been one of those people in the audience saying 'Let's go on to the convention!'" she said. "But I respect his decision. I disagree with it, but I respect it."
Meeks, Sullivan and Weber all agree John McCain needs to reach out now to the conservatives who backed Romney if he wants to count on their support.
But some voters on the right say they'll just stay home now that Romney is out of the race. Steve Nielsen, who owns a child care business in Vermillion, is one of them.
"I will not be voting for John McCain nor Mike Huckabee, and I'm not really sure what's going to happen from here," Nielsen said.
Nielsen disagrees with McCain's stands on immigration, taxes and campaign finance reform. He sees Huckabee as too liberal, too. In fact, Nielsen argued Republicans would be better off just letting the Democrats win this time, and trying again in four years.
"I don't believe the country will be headed in the right direction under the presidency of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and it will just be inevitable that we'll see a turnaround for the conservative side," he said.
"In the course of a contest, you're going to have folks who are going to say 'well, if it's not my guy, I'm not going to show up," Nielsen said.
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who initially supported Rudy Giuliani and then threw his support to John McCain when Giuliani withdrew, is up for re-election this year himself. He said by the time November rolls around conservatives will be motivated to turnout for the Republican Party.
"I'm very confident that come election day conservatives are going to be supporting John McCain and Norm Coleman, and by the way independents are going to be supporting John McCain and Norm Coleman, and that conservative Democrats are going to be supporting John McCain and Norm Coleman," Coleman said.
There are still two other Republicans in the presidential race, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, but they both trail far behind McCain in delegates to the Republican National Convention, which will be held in the Twin Cities this summer.
- All Things Considered, 02/07/2008, 5:51 p.m.