After a campaign stop late Wednesday in Arbutus, Md., former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) held a one-question media availability in the hope of quelling the day-long media firestorm over his top aide’s comparison of the general election campaign to an Etch A Sketch.

Rick Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart hands out mini Etch A Sketches to reporters Wednesday afternoon at Mitt Romney’s Arbutus, Md., event. (Aaron C. Davis / The Washington Post)

The impromptu media availability came at the end of a day that ought to have been marked, as our colleague Chris Cillizza notes, by celebration of Team Romney’s 12-point win in Tuesday’s Illinois primary as well as of the news of former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s (R) endorsement.

Instead, Wednesday’s news cycle became dominated by coverage of Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom’s remark during a CNN interview Wednesday morning that the general election campaign will be “almost like an Etch A Sketch – you can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

At the same event where Romney spoke, Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), was handing out mini Etch A Sketches to reporters.

And both Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) employed the classic toy as a prop at campaign events Wednesday.

The full transcript of Romney’s Maryland media availability:

I can tell you this, when the campaign moves to becoming a general election campaign, the nature of the campaign, itself, in terms of staff, funding, the states we would go to, would be different than today, obviously. It’s a much larger campaign. Fundraising numbers are very different. We now work with the Republican National Committee instead of apart from any committee of that nature. So, organizationally, a general election campaign takes on a different profile. The issues I’m running on will be exactly the same. I’m running as a conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I will be running as a conservative Republican nominee – or excuse me, at that point, hopefully, nominee for president. The policies and positions are the same.