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Santorum, Gingrich join Dems in Etch a Sketch offensive against Romney

 

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum shared a mind meld Wednesday when they pulled out toy Etch A Sketches minutes apart from each other at campaign stops located on opposite sides of Louisiana.

The toy props were used to mock Mitt Romney for comments made by his top spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. Responding to a question on whether his candidate was being pressured to move so far to the right that it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election, Fehrnstrom said, "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's like Etch A Sketch. You can shake it up and we start all over again."

The Romney campaign said "reset" was referring to the landscape of the race and not the candidate's position.

But Democrats quickly made use of the Etch A Sketch analogy to portray Romney as an unprincipled flip-flopper. In an email, subject line "An Etch a Sketch? Really?" DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse wrote, "Now his own top adviser had confirmed that Mitt Romney has absolutely no core and will in fact say anything to get elected."

"Forget everything you know. Forget everything you've seen. Coming soon: Mitt 5.0!" senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod tweeted.

The GOP candidates were quick to join the toy bandwagon. Arriving at his afternoon campaign stop with Etch A Sketch in hand, Gingrich told a crowd in St. Charles that Fehrnstrom's comment "triggers everything we should worry about" Romney.

"If we're dumb enough to nominate him, we should expect by the acceptance speech he'll move back to the left," Gingrich said. He added, "Governor Romney's staff doesn't have the decency to wait until they get the nomination to explain to us how they'll sell us out, and I think having an Etch A Sketch as your campaign model, raises every doubt about where we're going."

He handed the toy to a child sitting in the front row and joked she was ready to run for office: "You can now be a presidential candidate."

Meanwhile, on the eastern side of Louisiana in Mandeville, Santorum too was in the process of pulling out the red Etch A Sketch on the stump, saying if Romney had been around during the drafting of the Constitution, he would "just shake it" after "it was approved to rewrite it."

"We're not looking for someone who is the Etch a Sketch candidate," Santorum said. "We're looking for someone who writes what they believe in in stone and stands true to what they say."

Santorum's press secretary Alice Stewart continued to fan the flames of mockery, passing out mini Etch A Sketch toys in the parking lot outside a Romney town hall in Maryland.

"You either have conservative credentials or you don't," Stewart told reporters who were there to cover the Romney event. "The (Romney) campaign acknowledged that his conservative credentials can come and go with the climate, just like an Etch A Sketch, and we can't have that."

After ignoring Etch A Sketch questions at the ropeline, Romney held a rare press conference where he told reporters he expected his campaign would change organizationally in the general election but that his positions would stay the same.

"The issues I'm running on will be exactly the same. I'm running as a conservative Republican, I was a conservative Republican governor, I'll be running as a conservative Republican nominee ... at that point hopefully, nominee for president. The policies and positions are the same," he said.

Fox News' Nicole Busch and Chris Laible contributed to this report.

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