Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) admitted to CNN's Soledad O'Brien on Friday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in fact changing his position on numerous issues just to pick up skeptics in the political center, adding that lying to voters is so "typical" for Republicans and Democrats that he sees it as "good campaign tactics."
That point didn't go unnoticed by President Barack Obama either, who said Thursday that he'd never seen the revision of candidate Romney who took the stage on Wednesday night espousing a whole new set of political beliefs. "It couldn't have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year, promising $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy," the president told voters in Denver.
O'Brien challenged Gingrey, a Romney campaign surrogate, on that very point, asking him to explain why Romney said during the debate that he favors numerous positions and policies completely opposite of what he's campaigned on thus far.
"The president neglected to say that during the debate, but doesn't he have a point there?" O'Brien asked. "...That he was dancing around and this is now a flip from what he said very specifically and concretely before?"
"I've been watching and involved in presidential politics since 1960, when I first voted," Gingrey said. "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, and we want those votes too. So, this is campaign strategy. This is nothing new under the sun, and President Obama understands that, for sure."
"What you have just described, sir, sounds very much to me like an Etch A Sketch moment," O'Brien replied, noting that Romney campaign communications director Eric Fehrnstrom himself told her in March that the candidate's principles and policy positions would be shaken up after the primaries "almost like an Etch A Sketch."
Gingrey didn't respond to that, instead telling O'Brien that Romney wants to be seen as being able to work well with Democrats.
"That's not exactly my question," O'Brien said. "My question is, what you said is during the campaign you lean to the right and then you come back to the center when you're actually in the general election. So, to me that is, you say one thing to a certain audience to get them to support you, then you say something different, maybe completely contradictory, to another audience -- which some could define as lying. So, is that an Etch A Sketch moment that we're seeing?"
"Well, some would refer to that as campaign tactics," Gingrey said. "Good campaign tactics, without violating one's principle. Nobody is more conservative in the Congress, in the House, than Phil Gingrey... I felt very comfortable with what the president said the other night during the debate. I mean, uh, what Mitt Romney said. I am very comfortable with his position."
The video below was broadcast by CNN on Friday, October 5, 2012.