WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- An adviser to Mitt Romney gave the Republican U.S. presidential hopeful's rivals fodder Wednesday with an apparently ill-advised Etch A Sketch metaphor.
Romney barely had time to enjoy his primary victory in Illinois when campaign aide Eric Fehrnstrom told CNN "everything changes" once a candidate switches from the intra-party battles of the primary race to the general election campaign against Democratic President Barack Obama.
"Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign," Fehrnstrom said. "Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.
Romney has had a hard row to hoe in wooing conservative Republicans, many of whom consider the former governor of Massachusetts too moderate. Fehrnstrom's Etch A Sketch remark only served to give his opponents the chance to pick at that scab, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, pounced on the opening.
"Well, that should be comfortable to all of you who are voting in this primary, that whoever you're going to vote for is going to be a completely new candidate, remove all trace of any kind of marks and be able to draw a new picture, making pictures similar to when he ran Massachusetts, not as a conservative," Santorum said.
Politico reported Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker from Georgia, chimed in.
"Gov. Romney's staff, they don't even have the decency to wait until they get the nomination to explain to us how they'll sell us out," Gingrich said. "I think having an Etch A Sketch as your campaign model, raises every doubt about where we're going."
Gingrich and Santorum both wielded Etch A Sketches at campaign appearances Wednesday to make fun of the Romney campaign.
Democrats took a whack at Romney, with the Democratic National Committee releasing a video titled "Some Things You Can't Shake Off," Politico said.
In a tweet to the Times, Romney said his campaign would change "organizationally" in the general election but the issues he runs on "will be exactly the same."