A top aide to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney caused a stir Wednesday by saying the former Massachusetts governor will get a clean slate in the general election despite the conservative talk he has been spouting during the primary season.
“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” senior aide Eric Fehrnstrom said on CNN. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.”
Fehrnstrom made the remarks in response to a question about whether the grueling primary forced Romney far enough to the right to alienate voters in the general election.
The comments are troubling for a campaign that continues to face skepticism about whether the former Massachusetts governor is an authentic conservative.
Romney’s chief rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, quickly pounced on the comments by accusing Romney’s campaign of admitting that it’ll discard all the conservative things he’d been saying after winning the Republican primary.
“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,” said Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took to Twitter on Wednesday to write, “Etch a Sketch is a great toy but a losing strategy.”
Responding to the brouhaha over the remarks, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul argued in an email that the comments were just about how as they “move from the primary to the general election, the campaign changes.”
“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,” she said.
Will Rahn contributed to this report.