Mitt Romney claimed on Wednesday that the economic policies of former President George W. Bush and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson were responsible for keeping the United States out of a full-scale depression, reports The Huffington Post.
“I keep hearing the president say he’s responsible for keeping the country out of a Great Depression,” Romney said. “No, no, no, that was President George W. Bush and Hank Paulson.” There was also a potentially awkward moment for Romney.
While asking Romney a question, a business owner joked about the candidate’s failed business ventures — likely companies owned by Bain Capital — and told Romney, “I haven’t failed yet.”
“You will,” replied Rommey to laughter, before clarifiying that failure was “in the nature of the private sector.”
After a decisive victory in the Illinois primary on Tuesday over Rick Santorum, Romney learned that Jeb Bush — whose family name and appeal to both conservatives and moderates makes him as much an embodiment of the Republican establishment as anyone — was declaring his support and urging Republican voters to follow him.
“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,” Mr. Bush said, calling him “a leader who understands the economy.”
But such a great day for Romney was spoiled by a gaffe from his senior adviser.
“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a adviser to Mitt Romney, said in response to a question about pivoting to a matchup with Mr. Obama and appealing to moderate swing voters. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
The New York Times reports that this reference to a children’s drawing toy that erases the last image with a simple shake immediately fed attacks from Mr. Romney’s rivals that he was an untrustworthy standard-bearer for the conservative cause.
Newt Gingrich wrote in a Twitter message: “Etch a Sketch is a great toy, but a losing strategy.”
Mr. Santorum’s spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, handed Etch a Sketches to reporters covering Mr. Romney’s town hall-style meeting in Arbutus, Md.
“You take whatever he said and you can shake it up and it will be gone and he’s going to draw a whole new picture for the general election,” Mr. Santorum said while campaigning in Louisiana, which votes Saturday. “Well that should be comforting to all of you who are voting in this primary.”
Even Rush Limbaugh asked a question whether the remark was an error or a deliberate campaign strategy to send the message, “Don’t worry, we’ll do the right things to get the moderates.”
Mr. Romney said that his adviser was just referring to the mechanics of a larger campaign.
“The issues I’m running on will be exactly the same,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m running as a conservative Republican, I was a conservative Republican governor, I’ll be running as a conservative Republican nominee — or, excuse me, at that point, hopefully, nominee for president.”