March 21st, 2012
06:10 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney tries to clean up Etch A Sketch mess

Arbutus, Maryland (CNN) – Mitt Romney promised Wednesday that he would not change his positions if he wins the Republican presidential nomination, hours after a top adviser compared the general election to an Etch A Sketch toy and claimed that Romney can "shake it up" and "start all over again" in the fall.

That remark - uttered by longtime Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on CNN Wednesday morning - was pounced on by the Obama campaign and Romney's GOP rivals, who called it another sign of Romney's willingness to change his positions for political gain.

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The Etch A Sketch quip became such a distraction on the web and on cable that the candidate himself addressed it to reporters after a town hall meeting near Baltimore.

Romney explained that "organizationally," a general election effort looks very different from a primary campaign. There are larger staffs and more fundraising support.

But he said his positions would remain the same if he wins the nomination.

"The issues I am running on will be exactly the same," he told a pack of reporters eager for a comment on the day's conversation-driver. "I am running a as conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I will be running as a conservative Republican nominee, at that point hopefully, for president. The policies and positions are the same."

He then turned and walked back to the curtained area from which he emerged, confusing reporters who were expecting a longer question-and-answer session.

"Actually this isn't an avail," Romney responded when more questions were shouted. "It was a chance to respond to a question I didn't get a chance to respond to."

Romney's explanation is unlikely to satisfy his Republican opponents Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who both used Etch A Sketch toys as props during the day to accuse Romney of once again shifting his positions.

Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart lingered amid the satellite trucks parked outside the Romney event in Maryland, handing out mini Etch A Sketches to reporters.

Stewart said Fehrnstrom's remark "confirms what a lot of conservatives have been afraid of."

"He used to be pro-abortion, he used to be pro-gay marriage, he used to be pro-Wall Street bailouts, climate change," Stewart said of Romney. "You know now he's talking a different language, but the campaign acknowledges that if need be, if he won the primary, he would go right back to the middle in order to win the general."

Also see:

Romney can't escape birth control questions in Illinois

Obama leads GOP in battleground Virginia

Rubio to headline major South Carolina GOP fundraiser


Filed under: 2012 • Maryland • Mitt Romney
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Pander Bear

    What's the difference? He'll never be President.

    March 21, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  2. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    WHy don't you just shake it down to your core, Mitt... Maybe it will disappear like an...

    Oh! I guess that's wrong on a couple of levels isn't it...

    March 21, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Businessmen rarely make good presidents, and Mitt Romney will be one of the worst. Romney was the worst kind of businessman being a vulture who stripped companies of their cash, put their employees out of work, and pocketed any cash value the company had.

    March 21, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. enkephalin07

    A couple words and he's off. "My work is done here!" Where can I learn to be such a damage control master?

    March 21, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Debbie

    LOL Good try but the Etch a Sketch is out!

    March 21, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. tigerakabj

    He can't clean this up.

    If you look at Youtube on Romney for the last 18 years, you can clearly see him flip-flopping all over the place. He has no core and will say anything to anybody to get elected.

    This fall, he will deny having ever said that Bush saved the economy.

    Obama/Biden/E.Warren 2012

    March 21, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. snapperman

    Romney really needs more professional advisors and spokespeople.

    March 21, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. Memekiller

    To clean it up, all he has to do is shake.

    March 21, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Romney is not My Hero

    But he said his positions would remain the same if he wins the nomination.
    ----------

    Yes, his positionsssssss will remain the same – ALL of them. He changes his mind more than he changes his "magic" undies. May we vote now?

    OBAMA 2012!

    March 21, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. RINO Bil

    Could it be that Romney is the inspiration for the pointy haired boss in Dilbert?

    March 21, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  11. Larry L

    Beautiful! We all knew that was his plan but nobody could put it in better words! There you go Republicans... you've got a Liberal/Moderate/Conservative/"Severely Conservative"/Pro-Obamacare/Anti-Obamacare/Pro-Abortion Rights/Pro-Life candidate! One size fits all! The Clown Car rolls along...

    March 21, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  12. ObamaIsGodAwful

    Romney is a weak candidate, but way better than Obama. We'll have another compassionate conservative that caters to the middle if Romney wins, probably continued growth of the debt and continued ticking of the entitlement time bomb.

    March 21, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. Jeff

    "The issues I am running on will be exactly the same" Wait, the issues you ran on in which campaign? The one where you said bailouts are good or the one where you said bailouts are bad?

    March 21, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  14. Mr. Izz

    If this is the way things are going to be, then shall we delve into all of the things other candidates have said? I suppose we can't hand out moon bases, or pictures of Satan attacking America with a pitchfork. Maybe someone could photoshop images of Santorum throwing up while the famous JFK speech is playing in the background. How about t-shirts that have beastiality being equal to gay relationships? Everyone is going on and on about Romney's dog... what about Santorum's wife? He married her, right? What does that say about him?

    Months ago, all of the media personalities said that after every primary a candidate (Republican or Democrat) always gets a bit of a reset before the general election. It's about starting clean and focusing on your opponent from the other political party. I understand that. Does America? Or does America want these loonies waving these toys around and not talking about the issues that really bother us?

    How about "grasping at straws?" I'm sure we could come up with some sort of visual aid for that kind of thing. I can see the political cartoon now. Santorum and Gingrich, holding their Etch-a-sketches, reaching way up high, while on their toes, trying to grab straws near where Romney is sitting. I'm sure the straws will have something written on them, but I've already done most of the work here, lol.

    March 21, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    Why don't you try and clean up the big dig mess you created in mass while your at it you moron. Nobody ever created 250 million in asset honestly, you raid companies and sell off the assets and drain their pensions and devy it up with your bum friends and you will never be president, Dem landslide coming in Nov!!!! Get used to it clown.

    March 21, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Ann

    Santorum and Gingrich are so desperate that all they come with is to distort the Etch A Sketch comment. Some idiots. Give us a break.

    No matter who is the GOP nominee, he will have to adjust the message in the general election - do you remember that a President has to represent all Americans?

    March 21, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  17. Charles

    Much ado about nothing. You cannot breath with the 24 news cycle going crazy

    March 21, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. Miranda

    This is blown out of proportion, as always. The media loves making things more than they are and taking them out of context. Anyway it wasn't Romney that even made the gaffe. So why hold him to someone elses choice of words.

    March 21, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  19. MWM

    His position on everything has been engraved in stone, then ground into sand and used to make Etch a sketch.

    March 21, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. NameLori k

    Not a Republican – however, I find it disgraceful that others are completely ignoring this fact... Many Republicans are calling for other R candidates to step aside. WHY??

    Because once a presidential race narrows down to the final candidates, the campaign – by necessity and therefore, design – changes completely to vie in the 'new' arena.

    Get real guys – you can't have it both ways. It is quite obvious what thexman meant. Whether you agree with his politics or not, the speaker clearly is nit stupid, and therefore would never say anything resembling that, if he meant ANYTHING other than a change in the campaign effort, focus and aim.

    And to have NEWT GINGRICH jump in this bandwagon about made me croak, laughing. Remember this us the make who, lying to hide what ge actually believes in and was actually doing – ridiculed President Clinton for having an affair... WHILE HE WAS HAVING HIS OWN. Now THAT is an actual 'change' – or perhaps we could be a bit more honest and say that Speaker Gingrich lied to the American people about his 'morals.'

    BECAUSE THE NEXT PORTION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN WILL, BY NECESSITY, LOOK VERY DIFFERENT.

    March 21, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. dbasc

    omg! Santorum and the negative media are like little children, spinning and twisting a comment to interpret the way they want to see it and portray it. Grow up! He just meant starting the fight, the campaign, his candidacy over again but this time with the Obama team. Be real.

    March 21, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. Fuzzy

    Yup, and Santorum used to be pro Planned Parenthood, pro Arlen Specter, pro increasing the national debt.

    Santorum would have us believe he never changes his stance.

    Since he'd never change his mind, Santorum must still think Arlen Specter was a conservative, and he must still support Federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and he must still support increasing the national debt.

    Yup, I'm sure glad Santorum has clarified his position on changing one's position.

    March 21, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    I wish I could just shake up an Etch-a-Sketch and be done with all these Republican yahoos who seem hell-bent on destroying the American Middle Class and turning the clock on social issues back to the 1800s ....

    March 21, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  24. Rebecca

    I think Romney is pro wallstreet bailouts again. At least today he is.

    March 21, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  25. Yujai

    Oh the desperate cry of failing campaigns. Keep going Romney you will be the next President.

    March 21, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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