Tancredo Announces Decision to Exit Presidential Race

CQ Transcripts Wire
Thursday, December 20, 2007; 4:06 PM



TANCREDO: ... you know, for the past 10 years I have dedicated my public life to warning the nation of the perilous consequences of massive uncontrolled illegal immigration.

And while the people across this great country have come to understand the real and present danger that our open borders (OFF- MIKE) creates for us, this message, unfortunately, has fallen on deaf ears in the highest office of the land.

And without a president who is committed to securing the nation, we will always, of course, remain jeopardy.

And so, in spite of what we knew at the time were incredibly long odds, I made the decision to become a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America.

And as I admit, it is -- it was certainly then -- and we've always known the odds were enormous against that happening, but nonetheless I felt committed to pursue that particular agenda.

But nonetheless, I felt committed to pursue that particular agenda. And I am happy to say I am ecstatic about the fact that we can say we have made remarkable progress along those lines.

And I have to thank every single person who has worked on this campaign from day one, through all the miles that we've travelled together throughout Iowa and New Hampshire and states in between, it's really been my pleasure -- my deep and abiding pleasure and it's something I will always treasure; the fact that so many good folks have worked so hard in this endeavor.

And we have made, as I say, great progress.

In fact, according to Newsweek, the Tancredo campaign has already won. And just this month, The Economist, The New Yorkers, The Wall Street Journal, and even The New York Times have grudgingly accredited our campaign with forcing the issue of immigration to the forefront of the national debate and, more importantly, with forcing nearly every Republican presidential candidate to commit themselves to an immigration plan that calls for securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws.

And even the Democrats, by the way, are tortured by the fact that a misstatement on the issue, like, for instance, suggesting support for Governor Spitzer's plan to giver driver's licenses to illegal aliens will cost them dearly in the polls.

Who would have thought this could have happened six months ago, a year ago? I mean, it's beyond anybody's wildest expectations that we have been able to, with the help of America, really, get our national leaders to pay attention to the issue.

As I say, I am, indeed, pleased about -- as to how this issue has ripened. But for the same reason that I launched the campaign, I must now end it.

While several of the candidates appear to be committed to our cause, there are others whose records as public servants are abysmal on this issue. They have been on the other side of the battle for years and encouraging and even inviting, in a way, illegal immigrants into the country.

I fear that remaining in this race, when I know I cannot win, could contribute to the nomination of one of those candidates. We have done too much. We have come too far. The stakes are way too high for me to allow that to happen.


And so today I'm doing two things that I believe are in the best interests of this cause, and that cause is, of course, a secure America.

I am withdrawing from the race and I'm endorsing Governor Romney for president of the United States.

Throughout the campaign, I've learned a great deal about the candidates. I've certainly been impressed with Governors Romney -- Governor Romney's ability to solve very complex problems. And I believe he is a man of personal integrity and great character.

I think he would bring honor to the Oval Office.

So I am happy to do this -- this thing in two parts today and hope that we will continue the momentum that we have developed over the last year and a half throughout this campaign.

Again, it is with every ounce of sincerity that I have in my body to say to the people who have worked so hard that I love you and I believe with all my heart that we have made a difference in America.

And this is a great thing, guys. You know, all the miles we travel, all of the speeches you give and all of the time you spend away from your family, and you say, is it worth it? You know, I know I'm not climbing in the polls, I know that it's going to be tough, I know that others will take the issue. And of course that was, in a way, what we were hoping would happen.

But if you look at it, if you think about it, it's enormous the amount of progress we have made, something, I must admit to you, that stuns even me at this time. And it's because of you. It is because of you and your dedication. And I love you all for it, I really do. And I appreciate it with all my heart.

So, anyway, thank you very much for your time and attention, for coming here today, and I'll be happy to try to address any question you might have.


TANCREDO: I know that we will be in some way supporting the effort. I do not know at this point in time exactly what that will be. Frankly, it has not been discussed.


TANCREDO: We sure have.

QUESTION: ... where you have pointedly criticized Mitt Romney, questioning many times whether he has flip-flopped on other issues, and also questioning whether his rhetoric on this issue (OFF-MIKE).

TANCREDO: Well, it is undeniably the fact that we have met, that we have talked, and that, you know, you've got to do this. Again, go through the criteria, establish exactly what it is that you are looking for in a president. And as I say, I am convinced that he will do the things he said he will do in the areas that I -- specifically in the areas that I pointed out.

And there are things that we still disagree on. But you know what? There are things that I wish I could have gotten all the candidates to agree with me on, and that's not there.

I mean, if you look at it the way I presented it; if you go through the criteria, I think you come to the conclusion -- certainly, I have -- that I believe he will now -- I believe that he'll do what he says he'll do.

I'm not asking him to do more. I'm not asking him to do things that he is opposed to. I'm just asking him, and I believe he will do the things that I have laid out here.

And remember that the last part of that criteria is very important -- "and go the distance."

I mean, somebody's going to win this race. You know, somebody's going to be the president of the United States. It's not going to be me. So, really, what you're looking for is that person that you can hope and pray that will carry on -- and I do that. I put my faith there.

Maybe, you know, sometimes we're all in the position that, you know, later on, we think, gee, you know, if he didn't do it exactly the way I told him, then we're disappointed.

I know all those things are possible. But the reality is this. At this point in time, he is the best hope for our cause. And it is the cause. That's what motivates me. It is. It's not Tom Tancredo. It's all the things that we worked so hard for.

I just -- I cannot just leave them. I cannot just walk away and say, well, you know, it's -- you know, I'm finishing this race and you guys (inaudible) anything you want. Well, of course, everybody can. I'm sure we don't have full commitment, even with our own people, on this issue.

I've just done the best that I can do, in trying to discern what's best for this country and who will, in fact, have the best shot at carrying on. And he's the guy.


TANCREDO: Well, for one thing, of course, I have called for a "time out" on immigration. He does not -- her certainly does not agree with that aspect of it. Of course, none of them do. There isn't a single candidate that has agree with me on that issue. And that's one thing, of course.

And that's the one thing that comes to mind immediately.


TANCREDO: No, he has not. I mean, we have taken matching funds. We will not be using them all. We will return -- (inaudible) works, we will return a pretty significant chunk because we're not going to use them.

But we don't (inaudible).

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Have you thought more about that?

QUESTION: Explain why you felt that it was right to drop out now (OFF-MIKE).

TANCREDO: Well, as I said, it is apparent to me I cannot win this race. It's also apparent to me that the -- there are folks who are in the race who are -- even though they are -- even though they have rhetorically said the right things -- we've now forced them into that -- I'm not sure they're there beyond that.

And I say that -- like Governor Huckabee, for instance, and certainly Senator McCain. Those two, they have records. This is really -- one of the things, very important things that it came down to for me. Because anybody can say anything, and we've all heard it from these microphones -- "Yes, I'm with you. Yes, I'm there." Well, you've got to look, then, what's the record? What have these people done? When they had the chance, what did they do?

And at least, Governor Romney, to his credit, when he was governor of the state, he actually did something that I don't consider to be politically correct in the state of Massachusetts, and that is to stop driver's licenses for illegal aliens or to oppose giving in- state tuition to illegal aliens. I mean, I cannot find a motive other than the fact that he believed in it. What good would it have done him in that area?

On the other hand, you're talking about what happened in Arkansas, a totally different kind of situation. And certainly John McCain has been -- he's built a career in Congress in support of -- essentially of illegal immigration, of amnesty and all the rest.

So that's why I felt it's important to get out. I don't want to do anything that would -- that would aid them in their chances.


TANCREDO: Sure, sure, absolutely. It was important in making this decision. You bet your life it was.

QUESTION: Did any of the other candidates actively seek your endorsement? Did Governor Romney actively seek it or did you just call him?

TANCREDO: I have had communications with other candidates, yes. But I -- you know, they were private and that's the way I want to keep them.

QUESTION: Can you talk about any meetings that you've had or conversations (OFF-MIKE) you've had with Mitt Romney lately...

TANCREDO: I had one this morning. That's what I said.


TANCREDO: I really can't be any more specific than I have been. We went through a lot of issues. It was a lengthy discussion.

You know, when you're looking at somebody, you get a sense of what they're -- you know, what they're about.

And when you're looking across the table -- and we spent, like I say, a good hour or more in discussion. And some issues we did not come together on, but on the ones that I am, you know, absolutely committed to, I believe he is too.


TANCREDO: No. No. I had to clarify. What we did was clarify in my own mind exactly what he meant, exactly what he said, and what he intends to do.

QUESTION: Have you decided to endorse him...


OK. Thank you. And have a great Christmas, everybody.


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