Debra Saunders, a conservative columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, on Sunday said Mitt Romney’s decision to flip flop on his call to “absolutely” abolish federal disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast was an example of the “the Etch-A-Sketch Romney.”
Speaking to CNN’s Howard Kurtz on Sunday, Saunders pointed out that Romney’s flip flop was what senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom was talking about when he said that Romney could shake up his campaign “like an Etch A Sketch” and “start over again” after spending the primary season pandering to conservative voters.
“It is fair game for the press,” Saunders admitted. “He did say that he wanted to move this federal agency — for states to run things. And I’m sure a lot of people don’t think that’s a good idea. You don’t see him talking about that a lot this week, do you?”
During a Republican primary debate earlier this year, the former Massachusetts governor had said that abolishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was “the right direction” and eliminating all federal disaster relief was important because “we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.”
“It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”
But after repeatedly ignoring reporters’ questions about that topic in the wake of this week’s super storm, Romney reversed course in a statement on Wednesday.
“I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” the candidate said. “As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.”
“I think we’ve seen the Etch-A-Sketch Romney,” Saunders told Kurtz on Sunday. “He moved to the right in order to win the primary and now he’s moving toward the center. And we’re seeing, I think, the real Romney, they guy who’s a technocrat, the guy who would come in with his pencil and move money around for FEMA to try to make FEMA be more effective and more cost effective.”
“So, I think it’s fair for people to point it out and ask which one is the real one.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Reliable Sources, broadcast Nov. 4, 2012.