October 5th, 2012

Romney back tracks on 47% comment; O’Brien calls it his Etch a Sketch moment

When CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien asks Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) if America saw a different Mitt Romney at the debate, he says that campaign tactics allow for the conservative candidate to lean right in the primary and come back to center for the general election. O’Brien says voters may feel like this is lying.

Rep. Gingrey says, “I’ve been watching and involved in presidential politics since 1960 when I first voted, and the Republican, the conservative candidate in the primary is always going to lean right and come back to the center for the general, the opposite for the Democrat. That’s all you’re seeing here. It’s very typical. We strong conservatives understand that. There are a lot of undecideds in this country, that are hopefully right of center, not left of center. But, we want those votes, too. So, this is campaign strategy. This is nothing new under the sun. And President Obama understands that, for sure.”

O’Brien recalls Eric Fehrnstrom’s previous comment on Starting Point on March 21st that the race is a like an Etch A Sketch, where you hit a re-set button when the general election comes around, and asks if this is Romney’s Etch A Sketch moment.

Gingrey responds, “Some could refer to that as campaign tactics. Good campaign tactics without violating one’s principle. I – nobody is more conservative in the Congress and the House than Phil Gingrey. I’m in the top seven, tied for first…. I am very comfortable with [Romney’s] position and I have no doubt that he will govern to the right of center and that’s where the American people are.”

O’Brien counters, “For me, regular voter, I hear that and I think this is kind of what is wrong with politics. You just described – we take one tactic and then you are going to completely change your position when talking to another audience. But, you feel comfortable with that change because you feel that you know that he is going to govern to the right of center even though there are some changes that sound more left – more centrist in Wednesday’s night debate….  I think for a lot of voters it just feels like, so basically campaigning can be lying.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs weekday mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.