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Santorum tries to erase Romney Etch A Sketch comment

Republican strategist Vin Weber talks about the latest in the GOP nomination race and the upcoming health care battle.

 

This morning we asked if Rick Santorum had gone too far by saying it would be better to vote for Barack Obama than an Etch A Sketch Republican like Mitt Romney.

Well, Santorum has now tried to walk back the comment -- and he lashes out at the Romney campaign, blaming it for causing the dust up.

"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous,” Santorum said in a statement released by his campaign. “This is just another attempt by the Romney Campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney's policies mirror Barack Obama's. I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why - Romney has sided with Obama on healthcare mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts. Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation. If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation. It's time for bold vision, bold reforms and bold contrasts. This election is about more than Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or Rick Santorum - this campaign is about freedom and I will fight to restore your freedoms." 

But it was Santorum who said yesterday, "You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future.”

Newt Gingrich and Romney pounced, with Gingrich saying any of the Republicans running would be better than Obama, and Romney calling Santorum “desperate” and frustrated.

"I want to start with something Rick said tonight that I frankly was very surprised that he said and that I hope he's taking back,” Gingrich said, adding, “I may have some very substantial disagreements with Gov. Romney. There is no doubt in my mind that if the choice was Gov. Romney or Barack Obama, we would have no choice,” Gingrich said. “The danger of Obama is so great that I would hope that every candidate running -- Ron Paul, Gov. Romney and Sen. Santorum – that we would all agree that whoever becomes the Republican nominee, we have one common goal and that is to defeat Barack Obama.”

On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show this morning, Romney said of Santorum, “Desperate polls call for desperate pols.”

He added, “I know that there are a lot of people across the country that are saying we need to consolidate behind the guy who has now weathered, I think there are 38 different contests we've had, if you include all the little islands as well. … I'm sure that the Senator's hearing from some of those people saying hey, let's get going, let's move on and get our nominee ready to go against President Obama. and perhaps he's striking out with frustration from those kind of questions.”

And he went further, accusing Santorum of vanity.

“I'm afraid that Rick increasingly thinks this race is about him,” Romney said. “It's not about him. It's not about me. It's not about a personality. It's about the country. And I'm really disappointed in Rick's statement. Obviously, he endorsed me three years ago when I was running for president. He had no problem calling me a real conservative, a solid conservative. But now that he's in the race, it has become all about Rick.”