Mitt Romney Concedes
By Perry Bacon Jr.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- "Almost, but not quite," former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney declared to a crowded ballroom of his supporters after his loss to Arizona Sen. John McCain in Florida.
Romney said he had called to congratulate McCain, although the pair are known to have a frosty relationship. And while not naming McCain, Romney continued to cast his opponent as part of the broken Washington system.
"Washington is fundamentally broken and we're not going to change Washington by sending the same people back just to sit in different chairs," Romney said -- remarks he often uses on the stump.
Romney aides had expected a strong performance in this state, where only registered Republicans could vote, depriving McCain of the independent and Democratic voters who had helped him win South Carolina and New Hampshire.
Romney's aides signaled they would direct a frontal attack to McCain's right in the next few weeks, casting Romney as the true conservative in the race.
"The conservatives are starting to rally around Mitt," his wife, Ann Romney, declared in brief remarks after her husband spoke.
The candidate seemed in good humor after the loss, naming all the friends and relatives who had campaigned for him here.
"All you guys are family," he said, but added "don't expect to be part of the inheritance. ... I don't think there's going to be a lot left" -- a nod to the millions of dollars of his own money Romney has so far invested into his campaign.
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