We're waiting for Mitt Romney's speech to start here in a few minutes, and I'll live-blog it once it begins. However, we all have heard the report from Mark Halperin at Time that Romney will use the event to announce his withdrawal from the race. It will, ironically, now overshadow the long-awaited attempt at rapprochement from John McCain this afternoon, but I'd bet McCain would take that trade.
Keep checking back. Romney will take the stage in a few minutes ....
1:17 - Mitt made the right decision, and he made the announcement in the right place. He's a good man, and I think this will allow the Republicans a lot more time to find accommodation with John McCain.
1:04 - He wants to "do whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq," and this is his reason to withdraw. He's going to back out to ensure victory.
1:03 - Whether Hillary or Obama wins, the statists advance. He says "Many in this room are fully behind my campaign." Is he withdrawing?
12:59 - This has been one of his best speeches -- he's energized, emphatic, and inspiring. If this is his swan song, it will be a little ironic. He's now talking about economics, his best topic, and the crowd loves the idea of "taking a weedwhacker at regulation" and "standing up to the unions that run our government."
12:55 - Talking defense of families, and the culture of dependency. He calls for a Constitutional amendment for the definition of marriage -- the first policy statement of the speech. Otherwise, this has been a thematic address.
12:52 - Paying some tribute to the culture warriors on the Right. He's talking about the importance of faith, family, and freedom, and notes that even non-believing Americans believe in something "greater than themselves" which helps set America apart.
12:50 - Without conservative principles, America could become the "France of the 21st century -- still a great nation, but not the world leader, not a superpower."
12:49 - He's noting the large lead in delegates McCain has. This sounds like a valediction.
12:48 - He thanks talk radio for everything they do for conservatism. Romney also thanks the organizers at CPAC, and promises to come back many times in the future.
12:47 - Huge welcome for Romney. Absolutely huge.
12:45 - Romney's coming up now, introduced as "the conservative's conservative". Be aware -- this will pre-empt the AOL show this afternoon. Can't be helped;my apologies. This is breaking news.
12:40 - She tells the audience that in 1976, people told Reagan to get out of the race for the good of the party, and he refused. If Romney withdraws today, that'll sting....
12:39 - She says Hillary's $5 million went to "tear-duct enlargement surgery". That got a big laugh.
12:37 - Laura Ingraham will introduce Romney. She starts off by telling people to "calm down", a derisive reference to McCain's statement yesterday.