Scarborough on ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ fallout: A Romney shift to the middle will cost the election

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom’s ill-advised “Etch a Sketch” remarks on CNN are still raising questions about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s viability in the general election.

On Thursday, MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said that the problem illustrated by Fehrnstrom’s comments isn’t that Romney has shifted his stance on certain political issues, but rather Romney’s inability to come across as sincere when he changes his mind.

“My question is I know people move ideologically throughout their life,” Scarborough said. “I expect them to. I don’t want their feet to be stuck in stone. We all know the greatest example of this is Ronald Reagan who was a New Dealer with FDR and he was a union leader out in Hollywood. He moved in the ’50s and ’60s to the right. So that’s fine. The move to the right is fine. But nobody doubted in 1964 when Ronald Reagan gave that speech for Barry Goldwater whether he was dancing by numbers or whether he felt it in his core, in his heart, in his soul.”

“There is not a speech that I have heard Mitt Romney give on free enterprise, on lower taxes, on lower regulation, on economic growth, on hope, on prosperity, on the things that make conservative dorks like me get excited and stand up at conventions and cheer and say, this guy has to win if we want America to be greater. I have never heard one of those speeches from Mitt Romney, and neither have any other conservatives in America.”

The “Morning Joe” host went on to explain that, even though conventional wisdom suggests one should shift to the political center after a primary, that hasn’t worked for most Republican candidates over the past few decades.

“The mainstream media is always horrified by conservative candidates for the Republican Party and say, ‘Oh, they need to move to the middle if they want to win,’” he said. “Republican candidates don’t win national campaigns in the middle. Bob Dole loses national campaigns. Mitt Romney loses national campaigns. You know, John McCain loses national campaigns. Gerald Ford loses national campaigns. After he raises taxes, George H.W. Bush loses national campaigns because the Republican base is not energized and they don’t go out and vote.”

And despite Romney’s shortcomings, Scarborough explained, there are still a lot of things that could happen that would put the Romney in a spot to unseat President Barack Obama.

“What if energy prices — what if gas prices go to $6?” he said. “What if unemployment then starts going up because the economy is slowing down? What if Iran goes nuclear between now and the election and that bombshell is revealed like the Pakistani bombshell was revealed back in the 1990s? Anything can happen. I’m just saying, Mitt Romney does not look like the type of Republican candidate that wins general election campaigns.”

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