From NBC's John Boxley
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrenstrom says the decision to withdraw was made last night. Earlier in the day, Romney had held meetings with senior staffers, looking at options. At a later meeting with the entire staff, they enthusiastically encouraged him to stay in the race.
So he went home last night to write his CPAC speech, and Eric says it became a "farewell speech"
Romney wanted to do what was right for the party. Though he still saw a pathway to nomination, he was concerned about a protracted struggle within the party at a time when the country is at war.
Romney hopes today's decision unifies the party, his family supported the decision, and he will endorse McCain if he is the nominee.
Romney is meeting with congessional leaders on the Hill this afternoon, then going home to Massachusetts for some much needed R and R. He is not speaking at Lincoln Dinner tonight as earlier scheduled