A top adviser to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) on Wednesday morning likened the general election campaign to an Etch A Sketch, the classic children’s toy that can be used to draw a picture with aluminum powder and then shaken blank.
Fehrnstrom’s statement left some room for interpretation as to whether he was referring to the dynamics of the campaign or rather to Romney’s positions on the issues.
If it’s the latter, the analogy could be a problematic one for Romney, who won a double-digit victory over Rick Santorum in Illinois on Tuesday but has struggled to overcome the perception that he has shifted his issue positions with the changing political winds.
In an interview on CNN on Wednesday morning, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom was asked by comedian John Fugelsang whether the campaign was concerned that Romney might have had to tilt so far to the right during the GOP primary that he would be unable to secure the support of independents and moderates in the fall.
“It’s fair to say that John McCain was a considerably more moderate candidate than the ones Governor Romney faces now,” Fugelsang said. “Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right that it might hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?”
Fehrnstrom responded, “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 we start all over again,” he said. “But I will say, if you look at the exit polling data in Illinois, you’ll see that Mitt Romney is broadly acceptable to most of the factions in the party. You have to do that to become the major party nominee.”
ThinkProgress, an arm of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, highlighted Fehrnstrom’s remarks in a blog post Wednesday morning. National Democrats were quick to pounce.
“We’ve been saying it for months – and Mitt Romney has had a reputation for it for years: He’ll say or do anything to get elected – absolutely anything,” DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said in a statement. “Now his own top adviser has confirmed that Mitt Romney has absolutely no core and will in fact say anything to get elected. In fact – his positions are no more reliable than if they were written on an Etch a Sketch – which is exactly what Eric Fehrnstrom compared them to.”
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, clarified in a statement that it’s the campaign — not the candidates’ positions — that will change heading into the fall.
“As we move from the primary to the general election, the campaign changes,” Saul said. “It’s a different race, with different candidates, and the main issue now becomes President Obama’s failure to create jobs and get this economy moving.”