'Etch A Sketch' Comment Puts Romney on Defensive

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Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign is trying to build on the momentum gained from a big win and a big endorsement this week.

Following his victory in Illinois Tuesday, the former Massachusetts governor picked up a key endorsement from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Even as Romney begins to see some daylight as he advances toward the GOP nomination, a gaffe by one of his top aides is causing trouble.

Romney continues to gain new support among conservatives. Big Republican donors who had backed other candidates are now sending money his way.

A Tea party group, known as Freedom Works, announced it will no longer oppose his candidacy, saying the numbers are on Romney's side.

The presidential candidate then received his biggest boost so far to his campaign.

"My cell phone rang and I looked at it and it just said 'Jeb' on it. I picked up the phone and it was Jeb Bush and he said, I didn't even have to ask. He said, 'Mitt, I want to let you know I'm endorsing you today' and that was good news," Romney told a crowd of supporters.

In an official statement released Wednesday, Bush said, "Now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall."

Just as the Romney campaign began to feel the wind at its back, it suffered another apparent setback.

Appearing on CNN, Eric Ferhnstrom, Romney's top strategist, was asked if the candidate has run too far to the right to win in November.

"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 restart all of it over again," he said.

Ferhnstrom's statement re-ignited some conservatives concerns that Romney is a flip-flopper who will abandon their causes.

Former Pennslyvannia Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., took the slipup and ran with it, both walking into campaign events holding an Etch A Sketch.

"You're not looking for someone who's the Etch A Sketch candidate. You're looking for someone who writes what they believe in in stone and stays true to what they say," Santorum said.

Romney was forced respond to do damage control.

"I'm running as a conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I will be running as a conservative Republican nominee," he said.

Meanwhile, Romney's campaign is hoping its new momentum will send a message to his competitors, that the time is coming for them to drop out of the race.

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CBN News
Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.