What happened
Mitt Romney ended his run for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday. The former Massachusetts governor had vowed to stay in the race until the GOP’s summer convention, but his campaign saw no way of catching up to John McCain after a disappointing showing on Super Tuesday. Romney said he was quitting so the party could unite and focus on beating the Democratic nominee in November. “I entered this race because I love America,” the former Massachusetts governor said, “and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.” (The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog)

What the commentators said
Well, that’s it for the Republican nomination fight, said Alex Koppelman in Salon’s War Room blog. Romney’s departure amounts to “handing the nomination to McCain.”

Romney fought an uphill battle from the moment he jumped into the race, said Michael Luo and Michael Cooper in The New York Times’ The Caucus blog. He faced an “enormous challenge” trying to reconcile the moderate positions he took as governor of a liberal state with the “conservative views he championed” running for president, and that tension let his rivals “continually lambaste him as a flip-flopper.”

“Mitt made the right decision,” said Ed Morrissey in his Captain’s Quarters blog, “and he made the announcement in the right place”—at a gathering of conservative activists who are queasy over the prospect of nominating a moderate like McCain. Romney is “a good man, and I think this will allow the Republicans a lot more time to find accommodation” for the man who is now certain to be their nominee.

Romney’s a businessman, said Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post’s The Fix blog. He plowed millions of his own money into his campaign, but “likely decided that the path to win the nomination was too narrow to justify further expenditures of his own money.” He simply couldn’t catch McCain as long as he had to split the conservative vote with Mike Huckabee—who, as a Baptist minister, had an easier time wooing evangelical Christians than the Mormon Romney. Now Huckabee will come under pressure to drop out, too, so the GOP can start focusing on uniting behind a single candidate.