It didn't take long for the latest gaffe by the Romney campaign to catch fire in the political discourse. When asked Wednesday by CNN's John Fugelsang about former Gov. Mitt Romney's ability to woo moderate voters in a general election campaign after appealing to the far right in the primary, top adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said, "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." Romney's opponents jumped on the comment, claiming it as proof that Romney isn't a true conservative. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum both brandished Etch A Sketches on the campaign trail. Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee released an attack ad animating Romney's "extreme" views in an Etch A Sketch. Scott Galupo explains why the comment was so damaging to Romney's image:
[Fehrnstrom] went so far as to say Romney will "reset" his campaign strategy once he's the formal GOP nominee—which would've been bad enough. (Note well: Fehrnstrom was not speaking of a "reset" in the context of burying the hatchet with his conservative opposition.) He went further with the near-comical "Etch A Sketch" analogy—and thereby confirmed, one more time, that his boss is an unprincipled reptile.
However, some think the comment is being overblown by the pundits and politicians. Speaking to CNN's Piers Morgan, Ann Romney called the uproar a distraction, saying, "Obviously, he was talking about how we're going to change focus, and we're going to change, you know, what we're going to do in the organizational sense of changing. Not Mitt changing positions." Susan Milligan argues that nearly all campaigns have to hit the reset button on strategy at certain points in a race; the Romney camp's biggest mistake was admitting such out loud. She goes as far as to argue that the Etch A Sketch could even be a positive symbol for Romney:
The best part of the Etch A Sketch is the inherent message of renewal and redemption. Make a mistake, and you can just shake it up and start again. It fosters creativity and experimentation—all the things that contribute to what is great about America.
What do you think? Has the Romney campaign Etch A Sketch comment been overblown? Take the poll and comment below.
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Previously: Is Paul Ryan's Budget Plan a Good Idea?