When Republican political consultant Eric Fehrnstrom said that a general election matchup tends to create a clean slate for candidates much like the shake of an Etch A Sketch, he did nothing more than state an obvious truth that applies to this fall’s campaign as it has others.

His boss, Mitt Romney, will be judged head-to-head versus a lone opponent, President Obama, should he emerge as the GOP nominee against the Democratic incumbent.

What Romney said while running against multiple members of his own party during the primary and caucus season would not have the same context as what he and Obama will say in their convention speeches, fall debates, and general election campaign stops – and when voters focus on the idea that just one of them will be the person inaugurated as president next January.

The Democrats’ immediate and expansive protestations about the remark, some Republicans’ concerns or embarrassment over it, and the subsequent rise in the toy maker’s stock price glossed over this universal political truth: primaries are one thing, general elections quite another.

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