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. rc0213

    Romney – The liberals' favorite GOP Candidate. Don't vote for Romney. Please tell all your friends to vote, we need a big turnout.
    These are a few reasons why Romney is considered liberal:

    1) Romney created RomneyCare which ObamaCare is based on. Romney said he would repeal ObamaCare. Why would he if he supports RomneyCare, he is not telling the truth.

    2) Most decisions Romney made as Govenor was liberal, not conservative. So, what make you think he will be conservative all of a sudden?

    3) Romney lost to McCain by a landslide last GOP Primary, and McCain lost to Obama by a landslide. So, how is Romney going to win this time?

    4) When Obama wishes Romney well in the election and name calls and villianizes the other candidates, beware!

    5) Have you noticed the mass press and critics have shredded apart every GOP candidate except Romney? That is because they know Romney fits their agenda.

    Please, if you love the USA, vote for anyone but Romney.

    March 21, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  2. Stu

    Your joking, right? People actually needed to be told that Romney is a flip flopper by his campaign before believing it? Mindless fools. Cant you morons think for yourselves at all? You spoon fed Jorge Bush supporters are dumber than I thought. Romney cant beat Obama, and he is not a whole lot different even if he does. Look at the facts. 1) Romney tried Obamacare before Obama. 2) Romney and Obama are both for gay marriage. 3) Obama thinks he is god, and Romney thinks if he wears magic underwear, he will get to be god. This is what the evangilicals have sold their souls to support??? What a laugh. Dumb Dumb Dumb little christians. You fools. If you were real Christians, you would realize a mormon is not a Christian, and romney is no Conservative. Newsflash, Neither was the shrub, juan mclame, bush senior, or the pineapple.

    March 21, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  3. CppThis

    I'd be more inclined to believe him if he didn't already have a long history of doing this pretty much all the time. I know, I know, he had to go moderate and stuff to govern a very left-of-center state and all that jazz, but how does that inspire confidence in someone like me who recently had to leave a dysfunctional people's republik in search of gainful employment?

    March 21, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens will go down in history as the biggest liar in republican presidential history. Rick, Newt and Ron combined have not disgraced the the party as much as Mittens, and media refuses to take Mittens to task.

    March 21, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. MSM Pitching the country curves, sliders

    The old media are doing everything they can to injure the Romney campaign. Santorum and Gingrich were in the congress for a total of more than FIFTY YEARS, Romney was Governor of Mass. for FOUR and NEVER held a Washington DC job, but the constantly call Romney part of the Republican "establishment". Garbage. Like every time Romney wins another primary, here comes the MSM asking about aren't you really lying to everybody? Then they take a simple comment that THE ISSUES in the primaries and the regular campaign are different. They change that to sound like Romney's POSITIONS will change. How come they aren't asking Santorum why he made a campaign ad calling Romney an authentic conservative 4 years ago, but now calls him a phony conservative??? eh?? Simple CNN and AP and CBS and the bunch want to strengthen the weakest GOP candidates and cripple the strongest ones.

    March 21, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. datechguy

    this is going to have legs far beyond the primary. It is something voters who don't follow politics can understand.

    March 21, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. Captain Obvious

    No surpise. He simply explained that Romney doesn't really beleive in anything and simply *says* what he thinks people want to hear so he can get elected.

    ...just like Obama.

    Vote Ron Paul – the only candidate that has been consistent with his belief in the Constitution for 30 years, even when he gets criticized. He never waivers.

    March 21, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  8. Captain Obvious

    No surprise here. Romney doesn't really beleive anything but will say anything to get elected.

    ...just like Obama.

    Vote for Ron Paul. He has remained consistant for 30 years.

    March 21, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. Lauren

    Whatever. If you look at Romney's life, both professional and personal, he is one of the most consistent politicians I have ever seen. He's a smart, loyal, problem solver who puts personal relationships (i.e. family) and faith above all. Did you see when he shut down Bain to look for a co-worker's lost daughter? Married to the same woman for 43 years? Donated his entire inheritance?

    Romney 2012

    March 21, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  10. MTGrammy

    Santorum and Gingrich are so childish! And they want to be president!

    March 21, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  11. DG

    "The issues I am running on will be exactly the same." Only his positions on them will change.

    March 21, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  12. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that Romney has been recorded saying things like he would be to the left of Ted Kennedy. He is so all over the place that it is hard to figure out what he really stands for unlike his fellow candidates. They have their stands and are far more conservative than the rest of the country.

    March 21, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  13. Joy

    In a 1995 magazine article that did a long story on Santorum, Rick told the reporter that he had been pro-choice until he decided to run for congress. Look it up, right from his own mouth. What a hypocrite to continually throw in Mitt's face the fact that he changed positions on the abortion issue.

    March 21, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. Reality

    The game is RIGGED! wake up ppl! Do some research.

    March 21, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  15. NotFooledByDistractions

    The etch a sketch comment was absolutely Freudian – this one is going to stick because it just rings so true to Willards flip flopping nature.

    March 21, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  16. SunnyR

    Sheesh, you can smell the desperation in the Saint Santorum and Nasty Noot camps. These guys are like a pack of snarling, rabid dogs! They are the most incompetent, and the least "presidential" of any candidates we have seen in a very long time.

    These LOSERS need to think about getting out and getting behind the front runner. Neither of them have any chance of winning the nomination and are only making fools of themselves. Ron Paul needs to get out also.

    Go Mitt! On to Victory!

    March 21, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  17. Peter Wayne

    This is last ditch efforts by the media to hijack the Romney campaign and it's not going to work. Romney is aware of setting up straw men and knocking them down in my opinion. This school boy idea of an etch a sketch suggests to me of a school boy argument. Why not write on a chalk board and then erase it? What aboul a change of ones mind? No person of sanity would promise to put himself into a box and never change ones mind and Romney won't.

    March 21, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  18. Bill

    The Santorum and Gingrich campaigns would be wise to drop this nonsense and get back to issues that matters. This is very immature for candidates running for President of the United States of America. Not to mention the comment didn't even come from Romney, it was his aid. This sort of gotcha stuff shows how desperate Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are at this point of the primary.

    March 21, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  19. BcdErick

    Sorry, but if Romney iis serious about becoming President, Eric Fehrnstrom has to be fired immediately.

    March 22, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  20. FrankChance

    Romney hold up an Etch n Sketch with a likeness of Rick,Newt, & Obama. Shakes it up, smiles & says "Problem Solved

    March 22, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  21. chitownarkie

    Romney promises. Oh! He PROMISES he won't change his position. This guy changes position more times than someone with restless leg syndrome. I wouldn't trust him if he said it was day time and the sun was at high noon.

    March 22, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Ho Hum. Santorum and Gingrich need to get out of the race for the sake of one Rebublican nominee. If they really cared about America, that is what they would do. We are tired of their excuses. It is all about their egos.

    March 22, 2012 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  23. pstein

    He's no Etch a sketch...just a phony. An empty suit.

    March 22, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  24. David

    Etch A Scetch? Really? I think you guys should stop playing childish games and start talking about issues that don't disappear that easily. If all you have on Romney is an Etch A Sketch, some incident with a dog three decades ago, and that Mormons are kind of weird, you guys running against Romney are in deep trouble. You have nothing substancial on him, only hear-say and petty misgivings. Rush was right when he recently said, "the conservative alternative to Romney is... Romney! Mitt has you all beat, and your all playing desperation tactics.

    March 22, 2012 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  25. Liska

    Not too good for someone who has anything he ever wanted; no money problems; no health care fears, no bill paying problems. You know, Mitt~ you shoulda stuck with your gut instincts if you ever had any~ that way you could have lived with yourself after you fail. BHO 2012

    March 22, 2012 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
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