Think Progress flags an amazing exchange on CNN, in which Eric Fehrnstrom, a top adviser to Mitt Romney, seems to confirm that the conservative positions Romney has been forced to take during the primary won’t be a big deal because he can simply erase them once he becomes the GOP nominee:
Here’s the exchange:
HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.
There you have it. Dems, predictably, are pouncing on the remark, arguing that it validates their message that Romney has no core and will say or do anything to get elected.
But you’d think this exchange should have more meaning for conservatives. Fehrnstrom has come awfully close to admitting that the most damaging conservative positions Romney has had to adopt in the primary will be “reset,” and — to continue the Etch A Sketch analogy — can be erased at will if necessary. You’d think conservative reporters and commentators might want to press for a bit of clarification here.
One other point: Note how casually these remarks were greeted by the panel of commentators, as if his kind of thing is just business as usual. As I and others, such as Steve Benen, have been pointing out, it seems likely that many commentators will forget all about Romney’s flirtation with far right positions and grant him the presumption of moderation the second he becomes the nominee. It will be widely accepted that Romney didn’t really mean any of the things he said to get through the primary; all that silly stuff was just part of the game. The above foreshadows this perfectly.