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Santorum suggests Obama preferable to 'Etch-A-Sketch' Romney

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 4:04 p.m. HST, Mar 22, 2012

WASHINGTON >> Rick Santorum's latest attempt to use a Mitt Romney aide's "Etch-A-Sketch" remark against the GOP front-runner instead gave his rival a chance to fire back on Thursday, after Santorum seemed to say he'd rather see President Barack Obama re-elected than send Romney to the White House.

Speaking at an event in Texas, Santorum again made the case that Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom's comments Wednesday on CNN about a "reset" of the campaign if Romney clinches the nomination showed the former Massachusetts governor's efforts to appeal to conservatives are insincere.

"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," Santorum told a crowd in San Antonio, according to NBC News. "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."

Romney's campaign, eager to punch back after the "Etch-A-Sketch" moment went viral online, seized on the comment, emailing the following statement to reporters in the candidate's name:

"I am in this race to defeat Barack Obama and restore America's promise. I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican. This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America. Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure."

The Etch-A-Sketch controversy mushroomed quickly Wednesday after Fehrnstrom mentioned the toy in response to a question about whether positions Romney has taken during the primary that would be too conservative for him to win 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," Fehrnstrom said.

Romney portrayed Fehrnstrom's comment as a reference to the nuts-and-bolts of his campaign organization being "reset" for the general election, not his political views.

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