IT’S CATNIP FOR CARTOONISTS. Mix one common child’s toy with an apparent political misstatement now trending on Twitter, and the punch lines almost draw themselves.

Fortunately, in quick turn-around, Mike Luckovich’s mind goes beyond the most obvious laugh-line.

And it all was launched Wednesday with a CNN interview.

Now, if a top Mitt Romney aide had said that a fall presidential campaign can effectively have a reset button — and he’d ended it at that — humorists would have little political fodder. But senior Romney adviser (for now) Eric Fehrnstrom prattled on, more vividly telling CNN: “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

Let the scribbling and spin begin.

Fairly or no, pundits and political foes immediately ellided that to mean Romney himself, as a candidate, is a walking and (double)talking Etch-a-Sketch, his beliefs as shakable and impermanent as a drawing in metallic “sand.” (Indeed, some videos in that vein soon began popping up.) And unfortunately for the Romney camp, it’s an image as cartoonishly concrete as, say, “Doonesbury’s” depiction of Bill Clinton as a hovering waffle.

Reactions to the quote were swift. Romney went into damage-control mode Wednesday while stumping near Baltimore. GOP opponent Rick Santorum — campaigning in Louisiana and recognizing rhetorical red meat in the little red toy — reportedly popped into a Toys ’R’ Us to pick up several Etch-a-Sketches for trail use. And even the toy’s maker, Ohio Art, was considering the promotional possibilities therein, reports USA Today.

And over in Georgia, Luckovich — political cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution — quickly went into sharpshooter-humor mode, delivering a cartoon that not only employs the Etch-a-Sketch, but also says that some Republicans are still hoping the visage of Romney and his candidacy would just dissolve.

Mike Luckovich’s Etch-A-Mitt cartoon. (courtesy of MIKE LUCKOVICH / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

In the days ahead, Comic Riffs will be eager to see how other cartoonists — on both sides of the political aisle — invoke the Etch-a-Sketch’s newfound political status in their work.