Romney, Santorum and The Etch-a-Sketch Gaffes

Eric Fehrnstrom, Communications Director for the Romney campaign put his foot in it during a TV interview.

First the question from the CNN Host:

Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force [Romney] to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?

Implicit in the question is the political-media establishment assumption that Conservative voters are crazy and stupid and the strategy for a smart Republican candidate is to say whatever it takes to purloin their primary votes but then appeal to the more sensible voters of the Left in the general election.  Mr. Fehrnstrom’s answer:

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 everything starts all over again.

Fehrnstrom unwittingly provided the most effective metaphor yet heard to express the skepticism of Conservatives and tea party activists.  One could imagine Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and all the Republican also-rans scolding their own advisers for not being clever enough to originate the Etch-a-Sketch gimmick.

Mitt Romney then appeared on our TV screens to clarify:

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.

Yeah, that’s what worries us!  We don’t want the same policy positions he held as Massachusetts Governor.  And, why can’t he say I AM a Conservative rather than “I’m running as a Conservative”?

Rick Santorum tried to take advantage of the gaffe:

Some Conservatives…think we have to win, so we have to nominate someone that can appeal to [moderates and Democrats].  No!  You win by giving people a choice.  We win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s going to be just a little different from the person in there.  If they’re going to be a little different we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk on what may be the Etch-a-Sketch candidate.

Predictably, “might as well stay with what we have” brought thundering and well-deserved denunciation from every direction, especially the Romney camp, eager to transition from defense to offense.  Barack Obama surely has been more successful than any of the GOP candidates in uniting all branches of the GOP/Conservative/Libertarian coalition.  All are determined to keep him from winning a second term.

Santorum is a terrible campaigner with his undisciplined, stream of consciousness speaking style.  He spent weeks trying to extricate himself from a tar pit he brought upon himself by answering a reporter’s question about his religious view of birth control.   After the inevitable blow-back he emphatically assured us that he would never attempt to use the influence of the Presidency to erect legal barriers against contraceptives.  So then why answer the question and start a fight that doesn’t need to be fought and can’t be won?  Why not do as every other politician does, use an unwanted question as a springboard to speak about something else?

There is a nugget of wisdom in Santorum’s answer, even if he was unable to express it.  If the next President is Republican, and he has the benefit of a Republican congress, he must use the opportunity to halt the 80 year drift toward authoritarian socialism and begin dismantling federal regulation and control over the lives of the people, beginning with outright, unqualified repeal of ObamaCare.  If he does not, if he tries to “find middle ground” or “reach across the isle” the powerful interests in Washington will gladly continue the business-as-usual expansion of federal power, cost and strangling, bureaucratic complexity.

History proves the notion of a “moderate” President is a mirage.  Either government continues to grow more powerful or it shrinks back toward its constitutional limits.  There is no middle ground.  A “moderate” President – one who fails to begin dismantling the federal behemoth – will subject Republicans to the well-deserved wrath of voters, and a backlash that propels Democrats back into power.   Indeed, we’re enduring the ObamaCare threat to liberty today because President Bush and the Republicans were seduced by power, leading to the loss of their Congressional majorities in 2006 leaving our freedom at the mercy of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  If things are going to get even worse anyway, it’s better for it to happen with Obama in charge than with a spineless Republican moderate.

4 Comments so far

  1. Ralphy on March 23rd, 2012

    This GOP field of candidates leaves a lot to be desired. Obama should be easy to beat in November but these guys make me wonder

  2. AzTex on March 23rd, 2012

    Not a chance in hell of the GOP winning against President Obama. The country isn’t ready to go backwards to the same policies and anti-regulaton ideology that gave us the worst financial crisis since 1929.

  3. […] Romney, Santorum and The Etch-a-Sketch Gaffes […]

  4. Christopher on March 29th, 2012

    I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read.