That's all that's left of the real contenders from the once-crowded GOP field. Mitt Romney has decided to "suspend his campaign." He just made his announcement to the stunned crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. His reasons? It's for the good of the party and the good of the presidential race. As he put it,
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 (Hillary) Clinton or (Barack) Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror...
He could not have summarized the stakes any more clearly. This big picture perspective and pragmatic rationale demonstrate yet again why he remains the most qualified GOP candidate.
Alas, it was increasingly inevitable, but it's still difficult to adjust to. Unfortunately, he simply could not get enough people to recognize the reality of his qualifications and convictions. We'll see how the media processes this development.
UPDATE: This tactful and magnanimous decision is going to benefit Romney in the long run. It is difficult to imagine that McCain would invite Romney, with whom he has had quite a war of words, to be his running mate in the fall. However, it is very conceivable to imagine that by the primary in 2012, the conservative Republicans will recognize the mistake they've made (much the same way they did when, in a conciliatory gesture, Gerald Ford mistakenly let Ronald Reagan address the delegates after beating Reagan for the nomination in 1976. That "Uh-oh, we just nominated the wrong man" feeling by the delegates essentially sealed the fate of Ford's re-election bid and ultimately ushered in the historic presidency of Jimmy Carter. And we may see that same feeling resurface in the near future.) Don't be surprised to see Romney rise to the top in the future. (Politico is suggesting some interesting possibilities there.) This is certainly not the end for Romney. The only question is, "In what capacity will he be serving the GOP in the future?"
UPDATE: Mike Huckabee's campaign received a coveted endorsement from Dr. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and the voice for many conservative Christians across the country. I'm guessing it will have some impact, but not nearly enough to help Huckabee realized his presidential ambitions.
UPDATE: Here's the text of Romney's speech to CPAC from the WSJ.