The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Romney’s ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ Platform: Santorum’s ‘Act of God’ Moment?

Posted on | March 21, 2012 | 60 Comments

En route to Louisiana, I stopped here to meet Ali Akbar for lunch, then gassed up the car and was about to get back on the road when I decided I needed to get online and check my American Spectator column today (found four typos, now corrected). I got back home from Gettysburg at 3 a.m. after long off-the-record conversations with “sources close to the campaign.” The beers? Also off-the-record.

But I got up this morning and hit the road without ever getting online, so I needed to check in and see what was happening. And here at McDonald’s, I encountered this shocking story:

Top Romney Adviser Says Romney Can
Change His Positions After The Primaries:
‘It’s Almost Like An Etch A Sketch’

. . . Appearing on CNN this morning, Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom was asked if he’s concerned that Romney may alienate general election voters with some of the hard-right positions he’s taken during the primary to appeal to conservatives. Fehrnstrom brushed this concern off:
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 of over again. “

Dude. How much is that quote worth to Rick Santorum? At least a million dollars in the next 48 hours, I’d say, and maybe an extra 10 percent of the vote in upcoming primaries, if the Santorum campaign can turn that quote into a 30-second ad PDQ.

During my wee-hours discussions over off-the-record beers, I made note of the Neutral Objective Fact that all Santorum needed was for Romney to stumble, then pounce on it as hard as they can and it might shift the whole direction of the campaign. Well, if this isn’t a “stumble,” what is?

Team Romney said it would take “an act of God” to keep Mitt from winning the nomination. Or maybe a quote from Eric Ferhnstrom.

UPDATE: Press release from the Santorum campaign:

Hogan Gidley, National Communications Director, said: “We all knew Mitt Romney didn’t have any core convictions, but we appreciate his staff going on national television to affirm that point for anyone who had any doubts. With the two year anniversary of the signing of ObamaCare upon us, can voters really believe that the man who urged the President to use his healthcare plan in Massachusetts as a model would really repeal ObamaCare? Or is that promise just something they would ‘shake up and restart’ with when Romney hits the general election.
Voters can trust that Rick Santorum will say what he believes, and do what he says. They may not always agree with Rick Santorum, but they can trust him because they know he is a man of principle. Clearly, the same cannot be said of Governor Romney.”

Here’s the video:

If I were Rick Santorum, I’d use this quote to beat Mitt Romney like a rented mule — and that’s a Neutral Objective Fact.

UPDATE II: It is also a Neutral Objective Fact that you can click here to contribute to the Rick Santorum campaign.

UPDATE III: Thanks to the commenter who pointed out that this quote has already been turned into an online ad:

UPDATE IV: In the nick of time, Erick Erickson endorses Romney. I guess Erick loves him some Etch-a-Sketch.

UPDATE V: During lunch today with Ali Akbar — get your “Remember Breitbart” T-shirt now! — we were discussing the primary campaign and the alleged “inevitability” of Romney, and I emphasized something I’ve learned about politics: Events happen.

You can’t predict what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week, and every once in a while an event happens — like a top adviser admitting that his “inevitable” candidate has absolutely no core principles — that invalidates your previous calculations.


  • richard mcenroe

    Rick Santorum writes in ink.

    Santorum has called for tax breals to let US companies like Apple bring back money stuck in foreign banks without penalty.

  • paulzummo

    It took them about ten minutes to create an ad off of this:

  • KingShamus


    Hard to believe the presumptive GOP nominee is so intent on shooting himself in the foot so often.

  • Wombat_socho

    I’m beginning to think Mitt isn’t as smart as we think he is, much less as smart as he thinks he is.

  • t-dahlgren

    Romney so desperately wanted to be the blank slate that Obama was.  A desire no doubt shared by his closest advisers.

    They really think they are the smart ones.

  • robertstacymccain

    I’ve known Ferhnstrom since January 2010, when he worked the Scott Brown campaign. He’s a very smart guy. This stupid quote can only be explained as “an act of God.”

  • Later

    This doesn’t seem to excite Limbaugh as much as it does you guys:

  • Confutus

    What I think Romney’s advisor means is that once Romney’s won the nomination, Santorum won’t be able to keep shooting him from behind and Romney will  get a clean field. That may be taking a bit much for granted, but I’ve been hearing vocal supporters of Santorum who sound convinced that Romney is worse than Obama. I don’t think Romney is going to be too worried about losing the support of that crowd. My guess is what he loses there, he’ll pick up from moderate Democrats who dislike Obama. I see  this kind of gaffe as worth closer to 1% than 10%., and what Santorum gains with this won’t make up for losing the Tea Party, which is going for Republican Party unity. 

  • ThePaganTemple

    Not going to make a damn bit of difference. Why? Because for the most part people aren’t impressed with any of these candidates and they sure aren’t devoted to any of them. Now if Romney main opponent was Sarah Palin or somebody else of that caliber, it might make all the difference in the world. But Santorum? Meh.

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    He seems to  have picked up a distressing tendency to do this every time he wins something or the polls show an uptick in support.
    It’s quite bizarre actually.

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    I suppose, but even you have to admit this is certainly not going to help (and don’t think it won’t be something used in the general if he makes it).

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Rick Santorum has some embarrassing positions in his past too that he has backed off of.  I am no fan of Romney, but I cannot see how Rick gets the nomination now.  But if he is going to try, now is the time.  

    GOP Walking dead analogy time.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I agree.  Santorum has managed to alienate potential indie supporters and is the guy LOSING to meh Romney (total vote numbers, about 2:1).  

    Without someone more inspiring as an alternative, I do not see a brokered convention replacing Romney with Santorum.  

  • Adjoran

    Desperate to keep the fantasy alive, or to justify going 1000 miles to cover a losing candidate in a campaign that’s over?

  • surfcitysocal

    I’ve been thinking for some time that all these people voting for Mr. Electable would, if he gets the nomination, be the same ones whining, weeping and gnashing their teeth when Romney turns on them–if, by some miracle, he manages to beat Obama (which he won’t). I have to admit, I didn’t expect Romney (or his adviser) to freely admit he won’t wait until he’s supposedly elected, but rather, he’ll turn as soon as he limps over the nomination finish line.

  • Tennwriter

    That’s cause those Romney supporters are sooooooo smart.

  • Tennwriter

    Suppose you’re right Adjoran.  Then what?


    I guess its time to start watching more sports on TV.

    If the RINOS are that determined to take the GOP off the cliff, well, I can’t stop them.  I might as well enjoy the ride. 

  • Amanda

    Rick Santorum isn’t even close to being a fake, two-faced man like Romney. Santorum isn’t perfect, but ROMNEY is a PANDERING idiot.  The man has no core! What man in his 60’s doesn’t already KNOW what he believes? Only one… unable to stand strong for anything, because his desire for power outweighs his principles. Romney has shown us repeatedly, he will say anything or do anything to gain a vote. He is already pandering in the primary; in Puerto Rico, he misled voters there by telling them he will not enforce or expect English as official language. In Jan all 4 GOP candidates made it CLEAR- they all supported English as official Language of the US. Romney pandered for votes, as Santorum stayed strong, remained ‘true to thyself’ and conservatism. We NEED Santorum to lead America!

  • Amanda

    The Media took a position off of on Santorum’s position on porn. They took it from that website and tried to paint a picture that Santorum was discussing it on the campaign trail. He hasnt discussed it on the trail. It’s the SAME position ALL GOP candidates pledged in Jan. The MSM still will not stop misleading viewers. Did any of them MENTION Romney’s position? He actually talked about it on the trail. Do you think he has changed in 5 years? On December 26, 2007, while speaking at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney said if he were president, he’d stop the flow of pornography into homes. 

  • Pingback: Mitt Romney: the Etch A Sketch Candidate | Caffeinated Thoughts()

  • Bob Belvedere


  • Pathfinder’s wife

    Or they will try to convince people that this is the only path to saving “conservatism” and the GOP.

    Of course there will be some who will do nothing of the sort.

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    I don’t know about keeping any fantasy alive, but if Romney is going to be the nominee then this is giving me a case of indigestion.

    Of all the things: etch a sketch…from the campaign that already has issues with public opinion on their guy’s appearance of talking out of three sides of his mouth (yeah, ordinarily it’s two, but hyperbole is sometimes in order to illustrate a point).
    Somewhere by the shores of Lake Michigan an axleturfer is smiling…crikes…

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  • DonaldDouglas

    I got you linked, Robert: ‘Etch A Sketch’.

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  • Testor

    What stage is denial?  I always get the steps mixed up.

    You’re hoping to revive a campaign based on what an aide said regarding how candidates pivot after a Primary?

    Instead of a conciliatory tone that I was willing to offer the losers of this campaign, I’d be just fine if you ABRs go start your own Theocrat Party and let the adults handle it from here.  We didn’t need your help in the Primaries and we don’t need it now.

    You guys can have your own little political party and talk about all your big plans to stop Nudie magazines and Protestants from using birth control.

  • BradleyBuck

    I think these analysts and consultants eventually lose touch with how the average voter reacts to things. When you live in the midst of the kind of corruption that exists among the political class, it eventually becomes the norm. He probably is so used to viewing changing positions to win elections as normal he forgot the rest of us hate it. That’s why we need someone with real principles. That way we can have a real debate with the left over the issues that matter. Santorum isn’t perfecct, but he says what he believes.

  • BradleyBuck

    I was thinking the exact same thing this morning before I heard about this. It happened right on cue.

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  • Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • Zim

    You’re right. I see this as the Romney campaign saying we’ll have a different strategy for beating Obaman than for beating Santorum. But Santorum is a drowning man, so he’s grasping at this straw. As are his supporters. Santorum can’t beat Romney with this any more than Gingrich could beat Obama with the Deniro gaffe.

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    You know, this attitude also doesn’t help.
    If you aren’t careful people will take you up on it, and then what?

    I’ll say it again: this doesn’t bode well, but it seems to be written into the mix.  This summer will at least be entertaining.

  • ThePaganTemple

     It might help if Santorum would demonstrate a little bit of a sense of humor. Instead of passing out Etch-A-Sketches at Romney events, maybe his supporters could pass out condoms at his own. Or he could compromise, have them hunt up old used condoms and pass them out. Then he could say, just look at all the millions of innocent lives that have just been thrown away.

  • Charles

    Who doesn’t want to take the last 4 years, write it out on the etch a sketch, and shake it?

  • Testor

    That’s just it, Santorum is flailing around an Etch A Sketch like a man drowning. 

    This is over what a campaign aide said on CNN about a candidate pivoting after a Primary into a General Election.

    Santorum was never Presidential to begin with, but to say it’s unbecoming of a man seeking the Oval Office is an understatement.

    It’s pathetic, but Santorum is a pathetic candidate.

    What’s even more pathetic is REPUBLICANS jumping all over this when the Primary is clearly over. 

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    Hey no arguement here that he does need to show a sense of humor.  Although the Etch-a -Sketch thing was pretty funny, so was Newt’s comment to the matter.
    Snarky, but funny. (come on, you have to admit that Mitt seems to have this thing going on with the shoving of the foot in the mouth coming off a win; you can set a watch by him now — if he’s going to be the nom, then he needs to fix that…and he could do with a sense of humor himself…or anything really in the way of some personality; I remember Lawrence Welk reruns as a kid that were more exciting — and sitting through those at Grandma’s were not a high, thrilling point of my youth)

    Sorry, but Romney doesn’t get my support just yet; later possibly with reluctance and a nagging sense of deja vu, but not just yet.

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    See? Now that is a truly clever way to  handle it?  Do you think it will be used though?

  • Pingback: Top Romney aide: Romney can change his positions after primary, like an Etch-a-Sketch « Wintery Knight()

  • Bob Belvedere

    Get ready for a bizarre Fall if Willard gets the Nod.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Every Saturday Night at my Grandparents house on the one TV: Lawrence Welk.  I finally got wise and started bring a book.

  • Zim

    Stacy said:

    all Santorum needed was for Romney to stumble, then pounce on it as hard as they can and it might shift the whole direction of the campaign. 

    Yeah, and if I had some eggs I’d make some ham and eggs if I had some ham.

    It’s real silliness to think that this one- or two-news-cycle flap is going to make Santorum suddenly start winning more delegates than Romney. Santorum can’t convert New Yorkers  (95 delegates) to his brand of fundamentalism by waving a children’s toy in the air.  Carrying around an Etch-A-Sketch won’t magically undo his failure to qualify for the DC ballot (19 delegates), either.

    It’s all about the delegates, and Santorum has a 300-delegate deficit that is only going to get wider now that the Bible Belt primaries are over.

  • ThePaganTemple

    Go to YouTube and search for Lawrence Welk. Specifically look for Jan and Dan (I think that’s their names) singing Brewer And Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line”. 

  • Bob Belvedere

    I’ve seen it…sober, unfortunately [a condition which I quickly remedied * toot-suite*].

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    I did, but it never worked…the sounds coming from the tv always drifted, like wafts of old lady perfume, into whatever I happened to be reading.
    And of course getting allowed to go outside was hit or miss…there was no escape (heh, another analogy)

  • ThePaganTemple

     That would be a good way for Romney to deflect the others criticism, by turning it back to Obama.

  • Tennwriter

    Hatred ain’t pretty, but we have a lot of it in the GOP party.  Its like the color bar promoted by Dems.  No Socon need apply, no real conservative need apply.


    Because we hates them.