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

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

    I just hope all this Republican bickering continues for the rest of the primary season, resulting in a brokered convention in Tampa. Then, and only then, will America come to understand just what a bunch of losers all the GOP candidates are. So petty, mean, snarky, self-serving, offering the same-old, same-old anger, fear, hatred and division, along with economic, military and foreign policies that are PROVEN FAILURES.

    I mean, folks, have you been following the GOP primaries and how Ron Paul won in the Virgin Islands, but they gave all the delegates to Mittens? And how weeks later, Iowa took a delegate from Sanitorium and gave it to Mittens? And how the recent Missouri caucus was shut down because it was getting so out of hand that the organizers called the police?

    I'm not making this up; do an Internet search and you'll see just how nutso these people have become in their frantic, desperate try to regain power, knowing that they've got NO RECORD of accomplishment to run on and NOTHING to offer us!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    March 21, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. derfel cadarn

    An etch a sketch is far to complicated to be compared to Romney,now if you compared him to playdooh you may be fairly close. If Romney is the Republican candidate the American have NO HOPE

    March 21, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  3. krabz

    1. Romney made no "Etch-a-Sketch" comment.
    2. Newt brings an Etch-a-Sketch toy out for display.
    3. People treat this "item" as newsworthy?
    4. What does this say about the maturity of Newt, the people who make a big "story" of it and the people who would see it as an issue?

    Can't we just have an intellectually informed primary process?

    March 21, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  4. jim

    Has he fired the top aide who said what he would do when he got the nomination?????????
    NO
    He is GW McDole – just another progressive in a RINO suit

    March 21, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  5. Stoddard

    Hey Mitt, talk is cheap. Man up and fire this pathetic excuse for an advisor, then just maybe I'll start to believe you.

    March 21, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. sueinmi

    ...not too late for a third party candidate if promises aren't kept.

    March 21, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  7. b.mclane

    Not the first time someone in his campaign has tried to act like a big shot and given the wrong impression. It was a reference to wiping away this messy Primary race and starting all over on a clean slate as a General candidate. Even if that was a tongue in cheek moment you have to be a boob to not know your opponents will spin it their way and make it about Romney's values. "Take an Act of God for Santorum to win" was another stupid comment made by a staffer. Romney , himself, goes out of his way to be civil and in every winning speech he thanks his opponents for a well run race. While he remains humble his less disciplined staff likes to run their mouths. Time to call a meeting and lay down the law ANN.

    March 21, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. bflat879

    So, Romney and company want us to believe they'll act as he said he would during the primary campaign. I have a major problem with that. I'm a conservative, more so than a Republican, and if I can't trust him to be a conservative as President, what can I trust him to be?

    Romney is really lucky he's running against Obama because Obama can't win this election. He's alienated over half the population and they will defnitely vote against him next election. My problem is, where will the country be 4 years from now, better or marginally better. I know they'll be worse with Obama so my vote is a no-brainer, but I'd like it to be much better and Romney and his troops seem to be backing off.

    March 21, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    Seems like all the GOP/Tea Party candidates suffer from "Palin foot in the mouth disease."

    March 21, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. Tominstl

    The Romney campaign has just had its Dukakis-in-a-tank moment.

    March 21, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. Indy

    "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."

    Nothing like answering a gaffe with a gaffe. "I am running as a conservative Republican" nudge ,nudge,wink, wink. His record speaks for or against itself, he was a moderate on the record, but pretended to be a conservative. It wll be fun to watch the Obama team make Mitts cry and pee his pants,if he can survive and get the nomination.

    March 21, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. B

    Etch a sketch is the perfect icon for Romney and his behavior of coming up with a new sketch for every audience depending on what he thinks -They want to hear from him. Just erase what you just said and start anew-

    March 21, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  13. Armando

    You can't trust Mitt Romney!

    March 21, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  14. Donkey Party

    Willard has gotten sooo comfortable telling lies, that he believes them.

    March 21, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  15. UDoinItWrong

    Surprised I'm not seeing the typical Rick Cry-morum or Gimmick Gingrich supporters on here yet with the typical "OH MAH GAWD SEE HEZ A FLIP FLOPERRRRRR" comments. Maybe even they realize that simple misstatements by a candidate's underlings won't save their candidates....

    March 21, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. CarolynS

    I think Mitt should consider firing Fehrnstrom! What was he thinking?

    March 21, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  17. G

    Eric Fehrnstrom is so FIRED! He just gave away Romney's playbook plan to the whole world! The republican base is being played like an eighty-eight key piano!

    March 21, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  18. conservative

    Rick and newt are just upset that they are going to lose the republican nomination...... Mitt wasn't even the one who said it, it was a staff member that didn't know what he was talking about! So rick and newt enough

    March 21, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  19. Ray

    Rick and Newt need to drop out! It's getting pretty pathetic.

    March 21, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  20. el polacko

    'the middle' wins elections. do republicans want obama out of office or don't they ? this savaging of the likely candidate is as bad as the way the dems viciously turned on hillary in the last election.

    March 21, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  21. Thenisaid

    Every time Santorum opens his mouth he just sticks his foot into it by twisting something Romney said to try to make him look like an iditot. I heard what Romney said about the etch a sketch, and it made perfect sense, his (or anyones) camphaign has to start over once he (or anyone) goes from the nomination process to running in the general election.

    What is so odd about saying that? Thats what you do with an etch a scketch, you erase and and start over.
    Poor Moron Santorum grasping at straws.

    March 21, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  22. cisom

    Romney has consistently turned red ink into black. No changes there. He is what we need.

    March 21, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  23. jabusse

    The big R is for round. As in I will say anyghing in a circle and mean nothing. Round is for an empty hole who has shown he has no center. The Jello candidate. If Paul is not running I vote for Obama. With the house and senate in republican hands nothing will happen. That's good. Only Ron Paul keeps his word and his convictions and everything in the last three weeks has shown that even his foreign policy is right.

    March 21, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  24. David Burris

    I can assure you that the conservatives that are staying at home during the primary because the republican rulers are saying it is all over and Romney is the nominee will stay at home during the main election. This will cause the republicans to lose the house and senate.

    March 21, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  25. Lillith Goby

    Actually all the pilers on took the comment out of contex, rewwrote and foisted it off onto the public.

    Newt and Santorum show that they are no better than democrats and other deceivers.

    Is a lie a lie no matter who tells it? Not to those who love a lie and run with it.

    March 21, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
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