Romney’s Big Day Marred by Etch a Sketch Remark
Mitt Romney picked up a highly prized endorsement Wednesday from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush after a convincing victory the night before in the Illinois primary but then saw a top adviser’s televised comment provide new ammunition to his trailing rivals in the Republican presidential race.
Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s senior campaign adviser, was asked in a CNN interview Wednesday morning whether the former Massachusetts governor had been forced to adopt conservative positions in the rugged race that could hurt his standing with moderates in November’s general election.
“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes,” Fehrnstrom responded. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”
Rival candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who are vying for conservative support against the more moderate Romney, seized on the comment as indicative of their longstanding criticism that Romney shifts his positions on issues such as health care reform and abortion to suit his political needs.
Gingrich brought out an Etch A Sketch at a campaign appearance later Wednesday in Louisiana, where the next primary takes place Saturday.
“You have to stand for something that lasts longer than this,” Gingrich said at the Lake Charles event, holding the drawing toy invented in 1959.
Santorum’s campaign posted a photo on Twitter of the candidate using an Etch A Sketch, saying it showed him “studying up on (Romney’s) policy positions.”
Romney “will say what he needs to say to win the election before him, and if he has to say something different because it’s a different election and a different group of voters, he will say that, too,” Santorum said while campaigning in Harvey, Louisiana. “Well, that should be comforting to all of you who are voting in this primary.”
Fehrnstrom later said he was referring to the campaign as a whole, but the remark threatened to sap attention from Romney’s growing momentum toward winning the nomination to face President Barack Obama in November.