The Romney campaign may be learning that sometimes the best weapon against an unshakably bad story like “Etch-A-Sketch"-gate is to laugh it off.
First, a refresher. Eric Fehrnstrom, one of Mitt Romney’s top aides, torpedoed what should have been a gangbusters news cycle for the campaign with this answer to a question about how damaging the primary has been to Romney’s chances in November.
“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 restart all over again.”
Romney’s critics suggested it was proof of what they’d long been warning conservatives -- that he’d taken positions now to appeal to the party’s base that he’d quickly distance himself once he locked up the nomination.
Campaigning in Louisiana on Wednesday, Rick Santorum told voters that they can send the statement in Saturday’s primary that “you’re not looking for someone who is the Etch-A-Sketch candidate. You are looking for someone who writes what they believe in stone and stays true to what they say.”
Romney tried to put an end to the story by telling reporters that it’s the nuts-and-bolts of a campaign that would be “reset” in the general election, not his views.
But 24 hours later, it’s clear the story isn’t going away. The Democratic National Committee has just posted this video calling Romney “unshakably extreme.” Newt Gingrich tweaked Romney on it again Thursday as well.
So Thursday afternoon, Fehrnstrom took to Twitter to make light of the uproar. Linking to a story about how the Etch-A-Sketch parent company, Ohio Art, has seen its stock price tick up, he joked: “Psst, I’ll mention Mr. Potato Head next. Buy Hasbro.” (The company has said it’s happy to have a role “shaking up the national debate.”)
And Romney may soon have the chance to poke some fun at himself about it as well. NBC announced that he’ll be the headline guest Tuesday night on the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Romney has twice done the top 10 list on CBS’ “Late Show” in this cycle, but it’ll be his first sit-down late night interview since officially entering the 2012 race.