ARBUTUS, Md. - Mitt Romney responded for the first time to comments made by his senior adviser that compared his campaign to an Etch A Sketch, defending his strength as a candidate and saying that the issues he'll be running on in the general election will be "exactly the same" as those he's discussed during the primary.
"I can tell you this, when the campaign moves to becoming a general election campaign, the nature of the campaign itself in terms of staff, funding, the states we'd go to will be different than today, obviously," said Romney. "It's a much larger campaign fundraising numbers are very different, we now work with the Republican National Committee instead of apart from any committee of that nature. So organizationally a general election campaign takes on a different profile."
"The issues I'm running on will be exactly the same," said Romney. "I'm running as a conservative Republican, I was a conservative Republican governor, I'll be running as a conservative republican nominee, excuse me, at that point hopefully, nominee for president. The policies and positions are the same."
Romney was responding to a question about remarks made by one of his senior advisers, Eric Fehrnstrom, this morning during an appearance on CNN.
Fehrnstrom had told CNN's John Fugelsang, "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 restart all of 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 the nominee," he said.
Ferhnstrom's remarks have been seized on by both the Democrats and Romney's GOP rivals, Sen. Rick Santorum's spokeswoman Alice Stewart even appearing outside of Romney's town hall event with the Etch a Sketch toy in hand.
Romney initially appeared to be unwilling to discuss the controversy when asked about it by reporters after his town hall, growing irritated when the question was shouted over voters waiting in line to shake his hand.
"I'm not doing a press conference right now OK?" Romney said, turning to address the reporters.
Then, shortly after Romney had finished greeting supporters, a Romney aide announced that he would be holding a quick "Q & A" session with reporters.
After answering the question about the Etch a Sketch Romney walked away from the microphone, despite reporters who continued to ask questions.
"An avail is just more than one question governor if you don't mind me saying," yelled one reporter.
"Actually this wasn't an avail it was a chance to respond to a question I didn't get a chance to respond to," said Romney, before ducking out of the room and into his motorcade.