Romney's departure from the race came almost a year after his formal entrance, when the Michigan native declared his candidacy on Feb. 12, 2007, at the Henry Ford Museum of Innovation in Dearborn, Mich.
Over the ensuing 12 months, Romney sought the support of conservatives with a family values campaign, emphasizing his opposition to abortion and gay marriage, as well as his support for tax cuts and health insurance that would benefit middle-class families.
"We need to teach our children that before they have babies, they get married," he told voters at his campaign events.
But he was dogged by charges of flip-flopping, a criticism that undermined the candidacy of another Massachusetts hopeful — John Kerry in 2004. In seeking to unseat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1994, Romney said he would be a better advocate for gay rights than his rival and he favored abortion rights.
Throughout his campaign, Romney was questioned by voters and the media about his Mormon faith. Hoping assuage voters skeptical of electing a Mormon president, Romney gave speech on Dec. 6 in College Station, Texas, that explicitly recalled remarks John F. Kennedy made in 1960 in an effort to quell anti-Catholic bias. He vowed to serve the interests of the nation, not the church, if elected president.
In early voting Iowa, Romney sought votes by casting himself as the guardian of the Reagan-era conservative triad — a three-legged stool, as the candidate put it — of a strong national defense, strong economy and strong families.
Fueled by what would grow to more than $35 million of personal donations, his campaign hired top-notch staff in the early voting states, and Romney scored an early win when his organization topped the field at the Iowa Straw Poll in August.
By that time, the national front-runners, McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had virtually ceded the lead-voting state to Romney.