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March 22nd, 2012
09:50 AM ET

How long will the 'Etch-a-Sketch moment' last? Our Starting Point panel reacts to the quote that made headlines

It all began with a basic question from our Starting Point panelist, comedian John Fugelsang.

Yesterday on the show, Fugelsang asked Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom if his candidate has moved too far to the right that it might hurt him with moderate voters.

"I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes," Fehrnstrom responded. "It's almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again."

In the hours after that quote, the Etch-a-Sketch reference caught fire on social and traditional media, with video and photos of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich making reference to the toy. They both claimed the reference to the nostalgic toy was a symbol of Romney's constant shifting on issues.

The furor even prompted a response from Mitt Romney, who said "a general election campaign takes on a different profile...the issues I am running on will be exactly the same. I am running as a conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I will be running as a conservative Republican nominee, at that point hopefully, for president. The policies and positions are the same."

This morning, Starting Point panelists Will Cain, John Fugelsang and Ryan Lizza respond to the uproar. Cain said he thinks the furor will die down by 10am Eastern this morning.

"This is a Twitter-fueled, political, granular story," Cain says.

"Social conservatives might disagree with you," Fugelsang responded.

See the segment above and weigh in. Do you think the Etch-a-Sketch line was blown out of proportion or is important to the GOP race?

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Filed under: 2012 Race • Politics
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Phil Schwartz

    This is absurd! I know exactly what that aide meant. He was simply saying that Mr. Romney needs one set of strategies to defeat his Republican opponents, and then he must regroup (or shake the Etch-a-Sketch, if you will, to take on the President. Now whether or not he changes his mind on the crucial issues of the day is another matter.

    Phil Schwartz
    Who is not amused, Mr. Gingrich.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. wisdomVS

    Pay attention people... comment was not made by Romney, but his advisor Eric. However, isn't that exactly how things work in the political realm? They all start with a new approach once the real race begins. You can't blame Eric for stating the obvious.... duh!

    March 23, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert D

      Yes, it's a political truth. Having said that, it would have been a political blunder for any campain; but for Mitt it is just too good for the media too pass up. Why? Because he's a republicon being attacked by the "liberal media"? No, because it fits him all too well.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Todd

    To win elections in this country that is what every politician must do. To win the Primaries they need to convince that they hold the ideals of their party. Then when they win they need to show that have the ideals of the majority of the country. Everyone does it and all sides will need to do it. The winner is usually the person who migrates to the middle easier.
    In Bush vs. Kerry, Kerry failed to move to center as well Bush did during the elections so Bush won that election. In McCain vs Obama. McCain who was known as a moderate had to go to the far right to win the primaries and failed to move back to the moderate position (Palin didn't help).

    This happens, and if someone mentions that it does it is means for an attack.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Up2Late

    Explain to me how this is different than any other politician? Aren't they all pretty much populist politicians saying what they think the voters want to hear? Vote for the most interesting man in the world! He is a man rich in stories and experiences; women want to be with him and men want to be him...

    March 23, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Grumpy

    He'll become a blue mongoose if that's what it takes to convince the mndless far right conservative Tea Party voters that he is one of them.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. bigfoot

    Come the first Wednesday in November, Mitt Romney will wish fervently that the election was an Etch-a-Scetch.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Drbcool

    The Etch-a-Sketch remark captures Romney perfectly. Say something to one audience, shake it up, say something entirely different on the same issue to another audience.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. edvhou812

    Why is everyone talking about Romney? I'm betting all politicians and political advisors think this way.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Look at Romney's Actions

    The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In MA, he turned around a 3 billion dollar deficit to a 2 billion dollar surplus and governed conservatively in a very liberal state (much more conservatively than most of his counterparts would have done). This is all blown way out of proportion. The furvor from this will eventually die down.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. hank

    If this presidential thing doesn't work out for Mitt, he should seriously think about doing an advertisement for Etch a Sketch. I bet you they are seeing a serious jump in sales right now.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Dude

    Americans are tired of the divisiveness in DC. Republicans want a conservative. Tea Party wants an ultra conservative who will never compromise.

    The plan is to be between conservative to ultra conservative till you get the nomination, then be a moderate open to bi-partisanship in the general election.

    The real question is "Which one will be in the White House if he wins?"

    March 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jim970

    Total media hype. Anything to try to discredit the leading Republican. Irrelevant to anything of importance.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. talshar

    To answer the question from the video:

    Yes, this will stick to Mitt Romney.

    NO, it won't go away (you wish).

    Because Romney is nothing but empty suit. So the etch a sketch comment is true about him.

    Romney's dad said he supported the Vietnam War because he was brain washed – > How long did that last?

    Hell I wasn't born when he said that, and I *still* remember. 😉

    Good luck in November Willard.


    March 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Joe

    Hate to break it to y'all but this is what politics is all about. WE ALL KNOW IT!! They say it on the news all the time. During the primary you try to appeal to the majority of the party and then when you win the nomination for your party you shift to the middle to attract the millions of moderates there are there in the US. That is why Clinton won two terms because during his first term he shifted toward the middle and actually got things done. I see Romney as the future nominee and he started off by appealing to the moderates and that has got him up to now. I would expect a greater degree of "etch-a-sketch" moments coming from the whiny dufus Santorum if he were to get the nomination and the other two don't have a prayer.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. diane

    I agree with Peter on Romney's repeated statements that he's a conservative Republican. Gov. Romney, methinks thou dost protest too much!

    March 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. JohnnyApple

    This is accurate. Mitt changes with every crowd he is in front of...

    A man for all people...such inconsistencies questions the final product of what to expect as President...

    He's like a leaf blowing in the wind...turning over with every breath of air that comes by. No thank you...

    March 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. gran

    The problem to me is that the fanatic right wing will make it their mission to micro-manage Romney and program his every thought and deed. He will be a blank canvas upon which they will write their agenda of hate and hypocracy.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Deb McCurdy

    Just completed a portrait of Mitt Romney on my Etch A Sketch. Thank God I didn't have to use any curved lines.

    March 22, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Norm

    On its own, maybe it goes away. As part of a pattern showing how oblivious and out of touch Romney is, I don't know. This is a long-time adviser to Romney, someone who knows him well. I believe it was a slip of the truth.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  20. tr

    Romney 1.3 million more votes than Rick and Newt isn't even in the race anymore. He is a non factor now and at the convention. Rick should keep his etch a sketch to redo his delegate math. Next month doesn't look good for him.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  21. WoodyM90

    Flip-flop has a new name, etch a sketch.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mike

    Sad thing is that it isn't just Romney. ALL politicians are pathetic! They lie for votes and are always running for reelection. I don't know about you, but once I was hired, I was required to work not constantly interview.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Manny

    The toy has been around for over fifty years; who knows this may be around for the life of the toy.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Billybutton

    I had a heck of a time tryin to draw pictures on a Etch a sketch. Two little white knobs and a black line.. lol.. but it was sure fun..are etch a sketches still around?

    March 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  25. J.C.

    The "Etch-A-Sketch" metaphor is perfect for Romney. Just hold him over your head a shake him, and all of his core beliefs will automatically disappear and conform to what YOU want him to be.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • talshar

      He's going to find what what the American people want is to shake the Etch a sketch and make him go away, for good.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chase

      That makes perfect sense since sticking to his Mormon faith has him so popular with the evangelicals.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  26. James G. Hartley

    Close down Planned Parenthood?...Yikes!

    March 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Peter

    If you have to keep telling your constituancy that you are a "conservative Republican" then you can rest assured that nobody really thinks that you are a conservative Republican.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mowgli

      Peter, are you talking about Mitt, Santorum, or Newt? Each does this-boasts his true conservatism-daily.

      Look, this etch-a-sketch thing may be fun for a day or two, but it should burn out. And after all, it wasn't Romney himself who said it, but a staffmember. Further, the quote is entirely out of context. As Romney said, you reboot--you have an entirely different situation. One opponent instead of 7; no primaries; no republican opposition, but one democrat, and you're drawing the contrast between what good you'd do and what a disaster Obama has been. Whole new deal.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  28. D. Bolles

    It was a frank statement, but it is why US politics is so awful; why run on a platform while you announce it is meaningless? Truthfully, Romney has taken almost no substantive position on anything. Probably, he will run a presidential campaign the same way if he can get away with it. Then as Pres he can do anything he wants. Except he won't win. But the message of the etch-a-sketch comment is: "don't trust him."

    March 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  29. DonBeal

    Alfred Hitchcock said that you need a "maguffin" to hold the story together. I imagine the Maltese Falcon was just such a maguffin. Mitt Romney's aide has now provided the maguffin. Everywhere Romney goes, he will see an Etch-a-Sketch.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  30. lawrence stevens

    Let's see. These are CNN, left of center talking-heads who don't really join the battle themselves, they just make their money blthering about the people who reallyare doing something. This will keep up as long as it get them attention, then they will find something else to use to tear down people

    March 22, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nodack

      It wasn't the CNN talking point guys who made the comment that they are talking about. The Romney camp basically said, "It doesn't matter what we promise now because we start over with a clean slate as soon as we are elected and I don't have to do any of the things I promised I would do."

      Most Americans know the same is true for all politicians that talk the talk but have zero intentions of walking the walk. Romney's camp just made the mistake of saying it out loud.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Ron

        Nodack, I may disagree with you, but it depends on what you meant. The comment was in the context of right now he's trying to get the republican nomination and so he is doing everything he can to appeal to republicans. However, for any democrats that are paying attention, he might be losing their vote in doing so. What I belive he was trying to say is that once/if they get the republican nomination, they will then step away from their current campaign tactics and focus on trying to appeal to moderate democrats, instead. The complaint is that he may not really mean what he's saying to get the republican primary vote if he plans on becoming less right-wing after-the-fact when trying to appeal to democrats. I don't believe the comment was meant to discuss what would be his approach if he was elected president in the context of fulfilling promises made on the campaign trail.

        March 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mick

        Nodack, this whole thing is so stupid. Anybody who knows anything about politics realizes that when the actual nomination is secure, and Romney begins going after Obama that the strategies employed change because it is now the Presidential race and not just for the Republican nomination.

        This whole CNN news line is simply trying to draw more attention. Are people really serious that they are considering what Newt and Rick are saying in presidential politics about an Etch-a-Sketch? What foolishness.

        March 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  31. belindar

    There is no doubt that Romney is an Etch a Sketch Republican. He will tell you what you want to hear. He cannot fool the Americans who have a brain and uses it. Only the dumb and blind will believe he will keep his word. I hope that he will be able to go back to his big mansion and live off all his money.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alpha

      If only the dumb and the blind will believe him, then why is it that in most states, including those he did not win, he had the majority of those who graduated college vote for him?

      March 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JP

      You need to get your facts straight. It is actually the most educated sections of the population that most commonly vote for him in all of these primary/caucus elections.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • libwill

      Agreed....this guy will lose...I my wife and most of family will vote least this guy is honest in his core....THANK GOD for all he is doing for the working man....I believe if Romney is nominee our great President will carry several southern states including the one I live in......GO OBAMA...CHANGE WE CAN ALL BELIEVE IN....yes let Romey go back to his mansion.....Obama knows how us working folk lives.....gas is high....but said its not his fault...grogeries high...but that's only cause of high gas....again not his fault..lost my house and job...but he tells me it's Bush's fault...darn that Bush....I think we'll get our free health care in his second term..and with my food stamps everything will be and health care that good...that will help with my kids colds in the heat in the car....remember vote Obama...that Etch a Sketch remark by one of his advisers damn...nothing lower then that...I will continue to sleep in my car to keep that guy out of I've never forget what my dad always preached to me...Dems for working guy...repubs for the rich...Go Obama (change takes time)...4 more years... have faith things will get't bigger to take care of us....

      March 23, 2012 at 3:10 am | Report abuse | Reply

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