In Context: Romney aide's comments on the Etch A Sketch

Romney aide Eric Ferhnstrom made the controversial comment on CNN's Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien.
Romney aide Eric Ferhnstrom made the controversial comment on CNN's Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien.

Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom stirred up a fuss with his Etch A Sketch metaphor about the campaign strategy for the general election. Here's the full exchange from his comments on CNN's Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien. It came in a conversation with CNN correspondent Will Cain and John Fugelsang, a political comedian and contributor to the Blaze:

CAIN: You know, Eric, as that math -- I'm sorry, this is Will Cain. As that math becomes more and more obvious to a non-biased observer, it makes you wonder then why Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich aren't dropping out and there seems to be personal animus towards Mitt Romney from these candidates.

What has Mitt Romney done to make these guys so mad?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, primary campaigns or any campaign is like that. Emotions run high. Elbows get sharp and get thrown in different directions.

But usually when the contest comes to its natural end in a primary, people get behind the inevitable nominee -- in this case, it's Mitt Romney. That's what happened four years ago by the way. John McCain and Mitt Romney had a very spirited contest but you saw Mitt leave that race, fundraise for John McCain, act as a surrogate for him on the economy.

In the fall, he appeared at all his debates. Did numerous media interviews for Senator McCain. I'm sure that in this case, this year, you'll see the same thing happen with our opponents.

FUGELSANG: Good morning, sir. It's fair to say that John McCain was considerably a more moderate candidate than the ones that Governor Romney faces now. Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?

FEHRNSTROM: 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 we start all over again.

But I will say, if you look at the exit polling data in Illinois, you'll see that Mitt Romney is broadly acceptable to most of the factions in the party. You have to do that in order to become a major party nominee. He's winning conservatives. He's winning Tea Party voters. He's winning men, women, winning Catholics and Protestants.

There is a growing recognition within the Republican Party that Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee. And there's two reasons for that. The first is, people see in him the capacity of someone who can lead on the economy. Secondly, they see someone who can defeat Barack Obama.

There's a real sense that it the president is vulnerable this year because of the domestic problems he faces, and Mitt Romney is the person with the experience and the qualifications to take him on.