March 21st, 2012
06:10 PM ET
8 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. mdanan

    Your own people know you best. From your own people we have learned that they too see you as a liar, a flip flopper and a man of no character. Of course, as peolpe of the same sort, they believe they praise you when they assure the electorate that you really will not eliminate Obamacare, and that the positions you currently tout will fade quickly once the nomination is secured. I thought at one time I would vote for a grapefruit before I would vote to re-elect Obama. You, Mr. Romney, offer no alternative to the grapefruit or the lying corruption that currently occupies the White House. I, for one, willl not partake. Perhaps those icons of strength such as McCain, Dole, Bush, etc have found their "man," but I have had the great fortune to have known a father, a husband, teachers and business people who are true people of character. You are none of these. If you truely love this country, Mr. Sketch, please be driven home in one of your fabulous cars and let us choose from among the two true conservatives in the race. Perhaps you can give that Paul fellow a lift. He's already in the car.

    March 22, 2012 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  2. Dominic

    You carefully started to create your ETCH-A-SKETCH PERSONALITY in MA when trying to run against Ted Kennedy & again in running for Govenor. A little too late to clean that mess you created yourself, don't you think, Mitt?

    March 22, 2012 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  3. Cindy

    Mitt might as well try using a broom to clean up a tornado ravaged area. Lots of luck trying to, Multi-Faced Mitt!

    March 22, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  4. Hollywood Moon Coon

    Romney is like Obama in so many ways. Nobody knows who either man really is. Both men are calculating liars and cunning deceivers. Obama, shielded by the liberal media, has one identity he fraudulently hides and is protected from revealing. .Romney, shielded by the establishment republican media (FOX NEWS), has claimed many identities, standing by each and disavowing each, as doing so serves his political advantage. Romney is a Mormon and Obama is a Muslim, yet both claim to be Christians when even the most brief examination indicates that both Islam and Mormonism has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity.. Neither man is motivated by service to country but by service to personal achievement and personal agenda, hidden from the voting electorate. Choose to like or dislike Gingrich, Santorum or Paul for who they once were or who they are now. At least with them you have something upon which you can make a choice. Not so with Obama and particularly Romney. Both are chameleons. That's the problem with chameleons, especially evil ones. You can't see them...until its too late.

    March 22, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |

    Mitt McCain hires gaffe machines too. They match his gaffes so well. Obama/Biden 2012!

    March 22, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  6. MK

    his response was very clear and good. I am a conservative and say move on, only liberal idiots and media will keep distorting this – Idea for you – start to vet Obama and all of the gafs he makes, the destruction his policies have caused....

    March 22, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  7. Brian Brawdy

    Truth be told, most politicians are as vapid and mercurial as an Etch A Sketch. Rick and Newt couldn't wait to get their picture holding their mascot. That they fail to recognize the "glass houses" connection, only proves and solidifies my point.

    March 22, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  8. Marie MD

    Clean up? This man has probably never held a broom in his life.


    March 22, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  9. s

    who really cares, this group will make anything up to get in the news, lets talk about issues children and forgo the high school antics

    March 22, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  10. CFlyJuice

    Mitt should carry around a bag of straws as HIS prop for the next few days until the Etch-A-Sketch stupidity goes away.

    Have him say that "here are the straws that Rick and Newt are grasping at now that they have been resoundingly rejected by the Republican Primary voter."

    While Mitt was balancing the budget in Massachusetts, Rick was raising the debt limit 5 times all the while pushing the boondoggle "Tunnel to Nowhere" in PA just to pander for a Union endorsement.

    While Mitt was working to get Republicans into the House and Senate in the 2010 Mid-terms, Newt was pushing the energy killing Cap-And-Trade on the couch with Nancy Pelosi.

    March 22, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  11. Peter J. Fusco

    If Romney is nominated and elected, Americans, especially conservative Americans, must not trust him. He must sense our misgivings about his past record, and must be made to feel every day that if he does not do what we want him to do, i.e. cut government to the bone, overhaul the system subsequently, force the demise of Obamacare, and generally do what he has promised to do, we will fire him in four years just as we will have his predecessor. Americans had better wake up to this one fact: The only real power we have is the franchise, and we must exercise it with vigor every time we participate. Make them fear us, it is the only means we have for controlling our "representatives." Make then shake in their shoes every time they come up for election. Make them unsure of the future rather than them always being in the position of making us fear the same. It is, after all, us against them...and it will always be that way. Politicians are our natural enemies, treat them accordingly and life will begin to make sense again in America.

    March 22, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  12. David Kramer

    Romney is CONSERVATIVE! Well at least until the general election.

    March 22, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  13. Just Say No to Flipper

    Such a competent and well-organized campaign Rmoney's running there. NOT!

    March 22, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  14. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    Etch a lie

    March 22, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  15. joe

    You MUST call for this guys resignation. He dosen't get it.

    March 22, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
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