WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney dropped out of the GOP race Thursday after a disappointing showing on Super Tuesday, surprising many conservatives and his own supporters.
Members of CNN's Best Political Team -- chief national correspondent John King, senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, senior political analyst Bill Schneider and contributor Bill Bennett --discussed Romney's decision to suspend his campaign.
Q: Why is Romney getting out now?
King: He does not want to stay in the race and keep roughing up John McCain when it is apparent to most in the Republican Party that, like it or not, John McCain is going to be the Republican nominee or is most likely going to be the Republican nominee. And what he said in his speech about allowing the general election to get on against the Democrats. Watch as Romney bows out »
Q: Why didn't Romney connect with voters?
Bennett: He's obviously a very impressive man. [CNBC commentator] Jim Cramer called him one of the best businessmen in North America. He just didn't connect with the voters.
At the end of the day, you can do the exit polls about this issue or that issue, and at the end of the day, people vote for people. They just didn't get a sense of him that gave them enough of him to give them confidence.
Q: What does Romney dropping out mean to Democrats?
Crowley: They were looking at Mitt Romney as pretty doable in the political sense, saying you think this is a guy that has a record that we can really run with.
As you know, he used to be pro-choice, now he's anti-abortion. He has changed his position on stem cells. He has changed his position on gay unions -- that sort of thing. So they saw him as a vulnerable opponent that could take some issues off the table in terms of flip-flopping and that kind of thing.
It leaves them with John McCain, or perhaps Mike Huckabee, but they believe John McCain.
So they saw this coming, but this is a lot tougher campaign for them, they think, with John McCain, if it is to be him, than with Mitt Romney.
Q: What's ahead for Romney?
King: Gov. Romney is a young man. I think he is thinking about his future political viability and does not want to be seen as the Republican who stayed in the race, roughing up a man who will most likely be the party's standard there in the general election.
It's an interesting short-term calculation.
It certainly it appears from the information we're getting from sources that there is a long-term political calculation in it as well.
Bennett: I think Mitt Romney has a future in politics and he will be an important voice in this party. I expect to see him become something -- I don't know if that means Cabinet. Wouldn't he be a great [Republican National Committee] chairman down the road?
Q. Why are Republicans closer to picking a nominee than Democrats?
Schneider: Primaries are a killing field. They take losing candidates and get their bodies off the field. Well, they have gotten rid of Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney.
The Democrats are having a rougher time because their rules allow candidates who aren't doing too well to just keep on going for week after week after week -- you can't shut the process down.
The Republican rules have winner-take-all states. John McCain won several of them -- New York, Arizona, Missouri -- and therefore is the presumptive nominee. The process is shutting down, which is exactly what's supposed to happen in the primaries E-mail to a friend