Nightly News   |  March 21, 2012

Etch A Sketch gaffe shakes up Romney campaign

After a triumphant Illinois victory, a statement from one of Mitt Romney’s longtime political aides shifted the political conversation away from Romney’s potential nomination. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now we switch to the presidential campaign trail where on the heels of a big win in illinois just last night, mitt romney 's campaign found itself once again fending off the damage from a self-inflicted wound. sfi spichkly a quote they would like to have back about now. our report tonight from chuck todd .

>> reporter: it was one of the big republican endorsements mitt romney craved, but former florida governor jeb bush 's statement in the wake of the illinois win came on paper. now is the time for republicans to unite behind governor romney . and it lacked the enthusiasm and pump that characterized some others. still, bush's signal that romney 's nomination is inevitable was exactly the message team romney hoped would drive the day, but like some other membererable flbs.

>> i like being able to fire people .

>> i'm not concerned about the poor.

>> a gaffe rained on the paw raid. in this case, it was eric fern strm's response to whether his conservative stances in the primaries will hurt him in november.

>> you hit a reset button for the fall came pain. it's almost like an etch-a-sketch.

>> by lunch time , etch-a-sketch was firal. they had tweeted a caricature inside the toy. soon after, the dnc was out with a video. by afternoon, they were using actual etch-a-sketches as propped.

>> to have his communications director say to all of us, if we're dumb enough to nominate him, we should accept by the acceptance speech he'll move back to the left, triggers everything we're wered about.

>> santorum's campaign even sent an aide to hand out etch-a-sketches.

>> he brushed away a question before answering some at a hastily called conference.

>> a campaign takes on a different profile. the issues i'm running on will be exactly the same.

>> you know, while romney did hope to add the words presumptive nominee in front of his name today, the campaign even before etch-a-sketch had one eye on santorum. their daily attack e-mail went out and they have negative adds airing in wisconsin.

>> chuck, thanks.