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Presidential pick of Jeffco Republicans drops out

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By AJ Vicens

Two days after winning a presidential straw poll in Jeffco, Mitt Romney has pulled out of the race.

"If this were only about me, I would go on," Romney said Feb. 7 during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "But I entered this race because I love America. And because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country."

Romney had been doing reasonably well in the national race but was significantly behind Arizona Sen. John McCain. Various reports indicated the decision came as a surprise to many, including his own staff, some of whom didn't know until he was about to take the stage and deliver the speech.

Jeffco GOP Chair Renee Nelson could not be reached for comment.

Romney earned more than three times the Jeffco GOP votes in the Feb. 5 straw poll than McCain, finishing with 4,999, compared to McCain's 1,419. The next closest candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, eanred 727 votes, with Texas Congressman Ron Paul earning 553.

Nelson said the night of Feb. 5 that Romney did well in Jeffco because of the many strong constitutionalists in the Jeffco GOP who do not support McCain's stance on immigration reform and campaign finance laws. Romney had made pointed attacks against McCain in recent days, implying that he is a liberal and is not a candidate that Republicans should support.

"Gov. Romney is the conservative's conservative," said Kristy Campbell, Romney's spokeswoman. "What's most important going forward is that while they may disagree on issues related to taxes and immigration, he and McCain agree that it's most important to win the struggle against violent jihadists." She said Romney will be supporting McCain, but it's unclear where that leaves people who supported Romney because of McCain's perceived liberal tendencies.

Romney’s decision was made after looking at resources and options going forward, Campbell said.

"To prolong the national campaign given the prospects would forestall the chances of Republicans going forward," Campbell said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.